Plattsmouth High School Business Program students used their researching skills to make the most of it for group projects presented to local city officials last Friday.
The students are enrolled in the second course of the High School of Business program. Their Make the Most of It project was required in Dawn Danauskas’s business class. Groups were asked to research possible uses for empty lots and buildings in Plattsmouth.
They presented their project results to Plattsmouth City Administrator Erv Portis, Plattsmouth Mayor Paul Lambert, Plattsmouth Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cindy Cruse, Plattsmouth Main Street Association Director Charles Jones and the new Cass County Nebraska Economic Development Director Jenny Serkiz.
Each official gave a brief summary of his or her duties. In addition, Portis gave them a few tips on economic development projects.
No project, he indicated happens overnight. “We started having conversations with Casey’s five years ago,” Portis said. In 2017, Casey’s constructed a second store off Highway 75, twice the size of its downtown location.
Developers need to have a viable “return on investment” before establishing a business or industry in Plattsmouth.
“Casey’s made a $2 million investment and, like any other investor, they need a return on investment in several years,” he said.
Little Caesar’s started considering Plattsmouth as a location several, years ago. After extensive research, the owner decided the town was a good spot for the pizza place.
The first group to present their project was comprised of Claire Albers, Shayla Sinn, Hayley Powell and Emma Wagner.
Before deciding upon a business for a certain area in town, they surveyed 200 people about how satisfied they were with Plattsmouth businesses, how often they left to buy items or eat at restaurants out of town and their top choices for new businesses they’d like to have in town.
From the returned surveys, they created a decision matrix, which led them to the conclusion a movie theatre was an appropriate and viable choice for the area. Other top choices included a clothing store, McDonald’s and a sporting goods store.
Adyson Blecke, MyKel Kindelin and Raven Morgan determined Plattsmouth residents would like more restaurants. They surveyed a vast range of ages and concluded Runza was a top choice.
Portis told the students they needed to research the traffic count at locations and the cost of demolition any existing structures on the property they chose to focus on.
For Casey’s and any other retail establishment, he said, the traffic count needed to be 12,000 per day or more. “Car count is especially important,” Lambert said. “Most businesses look at car count now.”
“Car count and rooftops,” Portis added.
A third group was comprised of Reese Kostszewa, John Bradshaw and Hayden McKulsky. Their survey results were based on 23 respondents ages 15 to 17. McDonald’s proved the top choice based on the responses received.
Serkiz added another piece of advice for students to consider. “You need to look at whether you want to bring in 100 jobs at $13 an hour or 50 jobs at $20 an hour,” she said.
Other groups looked at appropriate entertainment venues, again including a movie theatre, to add to Plattsmouth.
“Being close to Bellevue is a double-edged sword. Because we have Twin Creek in our backyard, it’s not far to go to a movie. On the other hand, it would be nice to have one here,” Lambert said.
Danauskas said she would be more willing to drop her children off at a movie theatre in town “as opposed to dropping them off and leaving them in Bellevue or Papillion.”
Seven projects were presented in a two-hour period. Officials were pleased with the students’ efforts.
“It makes me happy to know you’re thinking about ways to improve Plattsmouth,” Lambert said.