New workforce housing to help fill high demand for jobs

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - People in Hastings hope a new housing development will attract more people in town and fill 300 open jobs.

Gov. Pete Ricketts joined Hastings city leaders for a ceremonial ground breaking Thursday at the North Park Commons.

There's two projects there: One is the Pioneer Trail Flats, which will include 84 new apartments; the other is just south at the Osborne View Estates, where 30 town houses are being built.

Michael Krings, executive director of the Hastings Economic Development Corporation, said filling the workforce is the biggest challenge the community faces.

"The biggest challenge to engaging, recruiting and retaining a qualified workforce is housing. All of this works together, and this is a culmination of a lot of partnerships. A lot of time has come into this, and we're excited that we're getting moving," Krings said.

The projects combined cost $21 million.

The state contributed $850,000 in workforce housing funds to the development. The city of Hastings matched that number.

Mayor Corey Stutte said they created a revolving loan fund so dollars can get recycled back into other projects later on. He said this will make Hastings more competitive in the housing market.

"When we have new people coming into the city of Hastings, we see a lot of people look north to Grand Island for living. This gives us additional opportunities to provide this kind of housing for people," Stutte said.

Krings said they're hoping to expand the development even more in the future. He said they want to end up with 300 housing units, which will be a $60-70 million investment.

The lack of workforce housing is a problem all across the state.

City and state officials said they hope this housing will attract more young professionals to the community, and keep them here.

"Hastings is taking a lead," said Gov. Ricketts. "They're one of the first communities to be able to use the rural workforce housing dollars that the state distributed to be able to leverage that into this 114 housing units between these two complexes."

You could see this housing sooner than you think. Pioneer Trail Flats is planned to be completed in Fall of 2020. The Osborne View Estates are set for June 2020.