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City of Omaha to help fund federal disaster-response center on University of Nebraska Medical Center Campus

How it will impact the area economy, job market; how it will be funded
Posted at 2:16 PM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 23:11:46-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Tuesday, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert’s office provided a release about the city’s involvement in funding a “multi-billion dollar federal disaster response center and state-of-the-art medical research and training facility” west of Saddlecreek on the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) campus.

Stothert and UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in which the city will provide $93 million of city funds to help support the development of “Project NExT.”

3 News Now reporter, Ruta Ulcinaite attended a press conference on Tuesday morning, during which the partnership was announced. She will have a full report in the 6 p.m. newscast.

Of the funds being promised, $45 million will support the construction of the campus directly while the other $48 million will be set aside for “public improvements, streets and a public parking garage on the adjoining Saddle Creek campus expansion which will include a new administrative office building and a mixed-use development that may include housing, restaurants, hotels and other amenities. “

The city has promised $4.5 million annually to fund the project with taxes collected from “the occupation taxes collected on tobacco and vaping products over 10 years, beginning in 2023.”

The taxes are part of a tobacco ordinance that was passed in 2012 to help fund the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. In 2019, a sunset provision, which would have ended the ordinance in 2022, was removed by the city, and vaping products were added.

The city is currently pulling in between $4.2-4.5 million with the ordinance.

Funding for the parking garage will be made possible with Lease-Purchase bonds. The city plans to include other infrastructure improvements in the city’s 2021-2026 Capital Improvement Plan through transportation bonds.

The city also anticipates that additional funds will be provided through “a public-private partnership between local, state and federal governments, and private and philanthropic support.” The state of Nebraska already approved $300 million for the project last year when Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a bill that is contingent on additional financial support for the project.

The city said the MOU is a non-binding agreement and that “funding sources will not increase taxes.”

With the development of Project NExT, Stothert’s office anticipates the creation of 8,700 permanent jobs and 41,000 construction jobs as the facilities are built.

In regards to the economic impact, the city has projected about $1.9 billion annually during construction and about $1.3 billion annually after it has opened.

Beyond the potential economic impact of the project, Stothert also believes it could help attract people to the area.

“This investment and partnership will provide enormous opportunities for Omaha and advance UNMC and Nebraska Medicine’s role as a global leader in research, training, treatment and prevention of disease,” said Mayor Stothert. “The medical center is already uniquely qualified to respond to public health crises, and other types of national threats, we have seen firsthand with the treatment of Ebola patients and now COVID-19. Project NExT places Omaha in a competitive position to attract and retain the best and brightest talent.”

Chancellor Gold shares Stothert’s optimism for what the project could mean to Omaha.

“We are thankful to Mayor Stothert and the City of Omaha for its commitment to the Project NExT and the development of the surrounding area,” Dr. Gold said. “Project NExT will provide a world-class home for an academic medical center, health security for our nation, as well as provide an economic injection that drives development and prosperity in Omaha for decades. We continue to work hard to secure the necessary funding from the federal government.”

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