Economic Development

Wood River is a progressive community conveniently located within the Tri-Cities area of central Nebraska. The community is growing, diverse, vibrant, and welcoming to new businesses and residents! Families are flocking to Wood River for a wonderful quality of life, great schools, the fantastic water park, and our new child care center providing reliable quality early childhood education. Lots are available in the new subdivision on the northern edge of town where you'll have easy access to everything you need. Community organizations continually strive to address emerging needs to ensure all residents can thrive and grow in Wood River.

Our proximity to Grand Island (15 miles east), Kearney (27 miles west), and Hastings (31 miles southeast) makes an easy commute for workers coming into Wood River or traveling out for employment. The region has a highly skilled, diverse workforce that is actively supported by area higher educational institutions. If your business is looking for labor in a supportive community, let's talk! Our Industrial Park and business district have availability.

Working from home or remotely and looking for a great place to live? Look no further than Wood River. With high speed internet, affordable office space, quality of life amenities and easy access to larger cities we've truly got the best of all worlds waiting for you!

We would love to visit, show you around, and answer any questions you may have!

Wood River is a Nebraska Leadership Certified Community.


A community must meet the following requirements to become certified:

  1. Demonstrated collaboration between community leaders and organizations.
  2. A strategic plan that is supported by a community needs assessment.
  3. Demonstrated use of community planning and zoning.
  4. A business expansion and retention strategy.
  5. Utilization of technology with web presence.
  6. An implementation plan and a strong understanding of state and local resources.

Revolving Loan Fund

Wood River Vision 2020 Inc. assisted the City of Wood River in applying for a USDA Rural Business Development Grant. The City was awarded $99,000 to create this revolving loan fund. No City funding is involved. If you’re thinking of starting a new business or expanding a business, this financing can help!

  • Eligible Loan Applicants: Any private business that will employ 50 or fewer new employees and has less than $1 million in projected gross annual revenues. Business must be physically located within the “service area” which is defined as the Wood River city limits and a 5-mile radius thereof. This includes businesses with or without storefronts, home-based businesses located in the service area, mobile businesses based in the service area and start-up business proposals that will be located in the service area. According to USDA rules, at least 51% of the business, at the time of application, must be owned by those who are either citizens of the U.S. or reside in the U.S. after being legally admitted for permanent residence.

  • Loan Amounts: Minimum $2,000; Maximum $75,000. Revolving Loan Fund projects must include a minimum of 20%* of funding from other sources that may include owner’s equity or other sources of financing.

  • Loan Terms: The term of an RLF loan cannot exceed 5 years, and may be less than 1 year as deter-mined by City Council and in relation to use of loan funds. Interest rate and collateral requirements will be determined based on loan structure and purpose. Interest charged will generally be below market rates to encourage small business development.

  • Allowable Uses of Loan Funds: Acquisition and development of land, easements, and rights-of-way; Construction, conversion, enlargement, repairs or modernization of buildings (including façade repairs), plants, machinery, equipment, access streets and roads, parking areas, utilities, and pollution control and abatement facilities; Loans for startup operating cost and working capital; Technical assistance for private business enterprises. RLF funds may not be used to produce agricultural products per USDA rules.

  • Getting Started: Obtain a loan application packet from the City Clerk’s office or the link below. An application cannot be considered until all required pieces of information have been submitted. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Pre-application consultations to answer questions are welcomed. Ask the City Clerk to have the RLF coordinator contact you.

  • Understandings: The City of Wood River is an equal opportunity lender and requires loan recipients to adhere to all equal opportunity laws. Applications to any City Council member, loan review committee member, officer, manager or supervisory employee of the City or close relative thereof, or to any subsidi-ary or affiliated organization in which the City has a financial interest shall be ineligible for funding under USDA rules. Ask for a copy of the RLF Plan document for comprehensive information about this RLF. *City may lower match percentage with USDA approval.

Contact Information: City of Wood River, 308-583-2066, 108 W 10th St, Wood River NE 68883, [email protected].

Application Packet

Plan Terms


Economic Development & Available Properties

If you’re looking to relocate or start up a new business in a vibrant community, Wood River is open for business! Wood River is ideally situated within the Tri-Cities and in close proximity to the Interstate, Highways 30 & 281, as well as major railway lines. We welcome the opportunity to visit with you and show you available commercial properties in the area. Please contact any of the following:

Wood River Economic Development Corporation, Chris Stewart or Brian Bangs, 308-583-2206

Wood River Housing & Industrial Development Corporation, Nick Rennau, 308-850-0789

HGI Realty, Jim Rennau, 308-583-2262 HGI Realty

Wood River Community Profile

Wood River, Nebraska, Hall County, Central Time Zone

Wood River, NE is located near Interstate 80 and Hwy 30 in central Nebraska, and approximately 15 miles from the north-south Hwy 281 corridor. Roughly 16 miles from Grand Island, 30 miles from Hastings, and 23 miles from Kearney, Wood River sits in the middle of what is called the busy Tri-Cities area of Nebraska. The community is serviced by the bustling Central Nebraska Regional Airport in Grand Island, and has Union Pacific rail service running through town.

Wood River is a community of 1,350 persons. The immediate economy is primarily agricultural, but the community also has a health local business sector including financial services, insurance, realty, and retail services as well as several manufacturing and light industrial enterprises and an operating ethanol plant. Local government and community leaders are supportive of economic development initiatives and eager to grow the business community. Several lots are available in the Wood River Area Economic Development Corporation’s industrial development tract where one new light industrial business built in 2015. Additional lots or small commercial/retail buildings are available in the downtown business district alongside busy Hwy 30 (traffic count approx. 6,000 vehicles/day). 

Location One

Wood River, Nebraska has numerous site and building choices for a wide variety of uses. To help make a more informed decision about where to locate your business, a database system, Location One is available through these links:

Available Sites & Buildings

If you’re in the market for a site or building, please note that, while Location One is updated regularly, excellent real estate comes up for sale even faster. The Wood River Area Housing & Economic Development Corp. strongly recommends that you also contact the broker/developers that represent these sites and local realtors for the most current availabilities.

If you represent some property that is not included in this inventory and wish to include these sites, please contact our LOIS Administrator at [email protected]

Resources to help you start or grow a business:

University of Omaha (Nebraska Business Development Center)

U.S. Small Business Administration

REAP - Center for Rural Affairs, Rural Enterprise Assistance Project

REAP offers technical assistance, training, loans up to $250,000. For special training opportunities the Women’s Business Center and Hispanic Business Development Center. Central Region: Griselda Rendon, [email protected] 308-850-4820

Nebraska Business Development Centers

NBDC offers business planning, training, valuations, loan packaging, government contracting, and a variety of technical assistance.  Link to local contacts

NEDCO - Nebraska Economic Development Corporation

NEDCO Is a SBA 504 lender, and has USDA Intermediary Relending Program and EDA Revolving loan funds. They are good with helping with buildings and usually only require 10% equity.

Invest Nebraska

Invest Nebraska offers venture capital and angel investment programs.

NEF - Nebraska Enterprise Fund

NEF offers technical assistance and loans up to $150,000.   Tonia Franklin, [email protected]  402-685-5500 Ext 206

Cooperative Extension

UNL Cooperative Extension offers technical assistance.

South Central Economic Development District

Nebraska regional development districts offer various revolving loans funds and technical assistance. Sharon Hueftle is the Director (308-455-4770)

USDA Rural Development

The USDA Rural Development program promotes economic development through loans to businesses provided through banks, credit unions, and community-managed lending pools. They also offer energy efficiency grants and loans to businesses.  Regional Contact: Bill Sheppard, Area Specialist 402-371-5350,  [email protected]

GROW Nebraska

Training and technical assistance with marketing Nebraska products. Janell Anderson Ehrke, phone 1-888-growneb


Local Option Sales Tax funds collected in many communities for the purpose of economic development and assisting local businesses. Contact the City office or local Economic Development office of the community you are interested in.

Imagine Nebraska Tax Incentives

Mostly for manufacturers and must have a minimum of 5 new employees and 1 million in investment for rural areas and pay at least $16.10 per hour.

Micro-Enterprise Tax Credits

Micro-Enterprise Tax credits provide a 20 percent refundable tax credit to micro businesses on increased compensation for employees or increased investment in targeted communities. Applicants may qualify for a maximum of $10,000 for the life of the program. The credit is limited to companies with five or fewer employees at the time the application. Credits are approved on a first in – first out basis with an application process through the Nebraska Department of Revenue.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program

Grants are available for qualified businesses that want to: create a prototype, do research and development, commercialize a product, apply for SBIR and Economic Gardening.

Nebraska Department of Economic Development Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), CDBG/ED is a grant to a city, village, or county that re-loans the money to a local qualifying business for gap financing. These funds have to create jobs that benefit low to moderate individuals. Usually run through an NDO when paid back.