JBS USA, a major employer in Grand Island, is making its commitment to the community clear with a $1 million donation from its JBS Hometown Strong initiative to the city for a hike/bike trail expansion and a new playground.
Longtime Grand Island City Council member Mitch Nickerson noted when the council accepted the donation last Tuesday that in his 18 years on the council, this is the first time a business has made such a generous contribution to the city.
The funds will make it possible for the city to extend the John Brownell Beltline Trail, which ends at Cherry Street, another mile to end at the JBS meatpacking plant. The city also will be able to add a playground at the Veterans Athletic Complex.
These are expensive projects that have been high on the city’s list of priorities, but now it will have the money to complete them. It will take some time to do the design work and planning before the projects can begin, but they should be completed next year.
JBS employs 3,600 people in Grand Island, with an annual payroll of more than $160 million and supports more than 675 local producers, paying them more than $2.2 billion per year for their livestock.
The company created the Hometown Strong initiative following its initial work to make its workplaces safer for its employees and ensure their job security during the coronavirus pandemic. JBS said it wanted to help the communities in which it operates to meet the challenges created by the pandemic.
Justin Bstandig, JBS human resources director, told the City Council that JBS USA was glad to help the city.
“The vast majority of our employees live here in Grand Island,” he said. “So anything we can do to make Grand Island look nicer, look better, not only for our generation, but for generations to come, is near and dear to our heart.”
By the end of the year, JBS intends to donate $3.5 million to Grand Island projects. Nationally, the initiative will allocate $50 million.
The trail extension and playground are local community projects that will benefit the companies workers and their families, as well as the community’s residents at large.
At a time when the economy is struggling locally and throughout the country, this investment JBS is making in our community is great news that will help our city continue to improve the local quality of life even though tax revenues are down.
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