Economic Development Director: Federal Stimulus 'Is 100 Percent Needed'

Feb. 11, 2021, 4:09 p.m. ·

Nebraska Economic Development Director Anthony Goins speaks with Dennis Kellogg on NET News' Speaking of Nebraska on Thursday, February 11, 2021.

Nebraskans and Nebraska businesses will need the help of more federal stimulus money to help bridge economic gaps created by the pandemic, Nebraska's economic development director said.

As President Joe Biden's administration pushes and Congress debates a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, Anthony Goins, Nebraska's economic development director, said he won’t debate the dollar amount, but until consumer confidence is better, Nebraskans need the help.

“What I don’t think is debatable is the fact that it is 100 percent needed until we rebuild consumer confidence around the virus and around customers feeling more – feeling safe to come in and just congregate like before the pandemic hit," he said on NET News' Speaking of Nebraska on Thursday.

The stimulus money should be targeted to the industries with the greatest need -- like hospitality and tourism, he said, adding rental assistance should included, too.

Sixty-three percent of small business owners across the country support the $1.9 trillion relief package, CNBC reported on Wednesday.

Some small businesses in Grand Island, Nebraska, were no exception to the hardships created the pandemic.

"[Small businesses] need us to have faith in their preparations to ensure that we are safe," said Cindy Johnson, president of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce. "Retail needs us to walk in the door, or they need us to be able to go online on a Sunday afternoon."

Cindy Johnson is president of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce. To learn more about economic recovery and development in the state, watch Speaking of Nebraska Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. on NET Television or listen Friday night at 6:30 p.m. on NET Radio.

Without the stimulus package in the spring, it would have been a different story for Grand Island businesses, who relied on the assistance, she said. However, Grand Island is unique, as the town of just over 50,000 is home to 7,000 manufacturing jobs, which are considered essential and have been able to work throughout the ongoing pandemic.

"Those industries barely saw a blip on the radar," she said.

Goins, himself, is a small business owner. As the co-founder of the Capital Cigar Lounge in Lincoln, he and other managers had to create new ways of serving their customers -- like delivering cocktails and cigars as a curbside service.

"We were just innovative," he said.