Farming, ranching, manufacturing, retail sales and tourism are the primary economic activities of Dawson County. By virtue of its location in the Platte Valley, agriculture is the major economic factor for the communities. Principal agricultural commodities are livestock, corn, food-grade corn and alfalfa. It is not unusual for the area to produce eight tons of alfalfa or 225 bushels of corn or 75 bushels of soybeans per acre.
Irrigation is not new in this part of Nebraska. It has been in practice in Dawson County since 1896. Currently, there are 225,000 acres under irrigation, which ranks as the second highest in the state. The area has two excellent sources of irrigation water: surface water from the Platte River and the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides an abundant underground water supply.
With 50,000 acres of alfalfa, Dawson County is the major producer of dehydrated alfalfa in the United States, producing 300,000 tons annually. That represents 25 percent of the total alfalfa produced in the United States.
Major employers in Gothenburg include: Baldwin Filters (air filters for motor vehicles); ParkerTech Seals (industrial seals); Hoovestol, Inc. (using Gothenburg as a relay station for its trucks hauling between Denver, Colorado and St. Paul, Minnesota) and All Points Cooperative (fertilizers and chemicals, feed, grain handling and storage, fuel and supplies).
Frito Lay is also located in Gothenburg, and operates a cleaning, storage and shipping facility for food-grade corn. This corn is shipped to chip plants, which produce white and yellow corn chips. The facility typically handles 12 million bushels of corn annually, and approximately one-third of all the corn required for the popular snack food is produced in the Dawson, Custer and Lincoln county areas each year.Monsanto’s seed research facility has been located in Gothenburg since the mid-1990s. In the spring of 2008, Monsanto announced their intent to build a $6 million learning center that will showcase the company’s advancement in technology and water management practices, in particular, drought technology.
Gothenburg has more than 40 acres available in two developed industrial tracts–with water, sewer and electricity and paving in place. Additional land is available for larger projects that require more acreage. The Gothenburg Improvement Company, the Gothenburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Dawson Area Development work with the city for industrial development in the community.
Cozad has many prime areas for industrial growth. The Cozad Area Chamber of Commerce, along with the Cozad Development Corporation and Dawson Area Development Office, assists the City of Cozad by bringing in new industries and businesses. Financial assistance is available through the Cozad Development Corporation.
Cozad’s major employers include: Tenneco Auto Equipment (shock absorbers); Tabora Farms The Gourmet Country Bakery; Nebraska Plastics (plastic fencing and irrigation pipe); Cozad Alfalfa and Nebraska Feed Products (alfalfa products); Colorado Biolabs (iron supplement); Darr Feedlot and Hi Gain Feedlot (cattle feeding); Paulsen, Inc. (construction and ready-mix concrete); All Points Cooperative (fuel and fertilizer) and VVS, Inc. Canteen (vending machine products).
Lexington’s economy is based heavily on agriculture, thanks to fertile soils and ground water. Surface irrigation from the Platte River to area fields supports high crop yields, which in turn foster a healthy livestock production.
Dawson County has over 350,000 cattle finished annually in feedlots and another 40,000 cows, and 50,000 hogs are produced within a 50-mile radius of Lexington annually.
The area’s thriving livestock industry has also helped companies like the Orthman Manufacturing Co. (farm implements and grain carts), Tyson Fresh Meats (boxed beef), and the Lexington Livestock Commission to become some of the largest employers in the city. Their success has also convinced businesses like Reach/Veetronix (custom keyboards); Designer Craft Woodworking, and Eilers Machine and Welding to put down roots here. Other businesses that have located to Lexington include Triple S Trucking (48-state flatbed service provider) and Cornhusker Energy (an ethanol plant completed in 2005 producing 40 million gallons of ethanol a year using 15 million bushels of corn). In addition to ethanol, Cornhusker Energy produces both wet and dry distillers grains, providing a feed source for local livestock producers.
Mac’s Creek Vineyard & Winery is a family-owned, 12-acre vineyard located along the banks of the beautiful Spring Creek, just north of Lexington on U.S. Highway. 21. The winery features a beautiful tasting room, and its quaint gift shop features genuine Nebraska products and wine accessories. The winery also has spacious rooms and a beautiful deck available for special events.
Community Development projects (which include public buildings, housing development, business recruitment and retention as well as industrial recruitment) in Lexington are overseen by the Community Development Advisory Board (CDAB), which serves as the liaison between the city and the project. The CDAB members are representatives from the City of Lexington, the Chamber of Commerce, the Council for Economic Development and Greater Lexington Corporation. Lexington has several industrial sites located by rail and Interstate 80 that have water, electricity and sewer service.
Low utility costs make Nebraska an excellent location for industries. Industrial rates for electricity and natural gas are among the lowest in the nation. Both energy sources are easily accessible through the state. Nebraska is the only state in the nation served totally by public electric power.
The communities of Dawson County buy electricity from the Nebraska Public Power District. Dawson Public Power District, a wholesale customer of the Nebraska Public Power District, serves the rural area of the county.
Water for the communities in Dawson County is supplied by underground wells. Dawson County sits on the Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer. Stretching from the Texas Panhandle northward to South Dakota, it is the largest single water-bearing unit in North America. The Ogallala is neither an underground lake nor an underground river as envisioned by many. It is a gigantic sponge that holds enough water to fill Lake Huron. This area has clear, untreated water available for industrial use and crop irrigation, as well as for its citizens. A 200-foot well will produce 1,200 gallons of water per minute.
The water table fluctuates seasonally with no major significant change. The average tap water temperature varies from 46 degrees in the winter to 48 degrees in the summer.
Natural gas is available for residential and commercial use. Availability of natural gas for industrial uses is subject to individual situations.
Broadband services are available in Lexington, Cozad and Gothenburg through several providers. Qwest has also introduced DSL to Gothenburg and Lexington, with both business and residential rates. Cozad Telephone Company provides equal service to its customers. Wi-Fi is available at many sites around each of the communities.
Here in Dawson County, many entities are utilizing the Internet’s flexibility and convenience. Business is handled any hour of any day, year-round, with communication between companies all over the world. E-commerce has revolutionized the way people in Dawson County do business.
More information about Dawson County, its communities and its businesses is available at: