Area businessman Glaeser helps celebrate Nebraska city's new bridge

Gainesville businessman Mitch Glaeser stands in front of the new bridge over the Missouri River.

Submitted photo
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 3:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 3:54 p.m.

Gainesville businessman Mitch Glaeser was among the guest speakers Sunday at the dedication of a new bridge over the Missouri River that the Falls City (Nebraska) Journal referred to as “the bridge that Mitch built.”

After investing in several properties in the rebounding Nebraska town, Glaeser came up with the idea for a letter-writing campaign to encourage officials to replace the aging and dangerous 1939 span between Nebraska and Missouri.

On the way to 1,600 letters, he heard from Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and was part of a tri-state lobbying effort -- including officials from Kansas -- to get state and federal officials to fund the bridge's replacement. As a result, construction went from being an unscheduled wish to fully funded within 11 months, and on Sunday the $26 million, 2,400-foot span opened to traffic.

Glaeser spoke by phone from Nebraska, where he remained Thursday to attend the ribbon cutting of a new $23 million grain elevator, one of numerous developments that are changing the fortunes of Falls City, a town of 4,600 people. He first learned of opportunities to invest in the town during a Berkshire-Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Neb., starting with his purchase and renovation of a 1924 hotel in 2007.

The bridge experience showed what can be accomplished when a community pulls together, said Glaeser, who is this year's chairman of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

“It certainly has helped me recognize that when we engage a company looking to come to or expand in Gainesville how important it is to have all of the elements working in unison. That combined power of pulling those entities together and having all of them looking forward as one front is very, very important to somebody that's looking to invest in your community.”

In that regard, Glaeser said Gainesville is “doing a great job” as evidenced by the new company announcements of recent years. He added that there are also areas for improvement that the Chamber continues to work on.

“I'm more enthused and more fired up to accomplish things than ever before, if we can get everyone looking and working in the same direction,” he said.

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