Gothenburg plans to seek new employer for closed Baldwin Filters plant

The former Baldwin Filters manufacturing plant in Gothenburg will be purchased to help recruit a new employer, according to two community leaders.

Gothenburg Improvement Co., a volunteer economic development group, has signed a contract to buy the 100,000-square-foot plant from Baldwin.

The company relocated its operations and jobs to its Kearney headquarters late last year.

Baldwin announced its intentions in late 2017, giving Gothenburg leaders time to negotiate to buy the plant after it closed, GIC President Nate Wyatt said in a press release.

“We are excited for the opportunity to purchase this asset for the community of Gothenburg, and we have already begun marketing it to prospective businesses,” Wyatt said.

The economic development group has formally asked the city of Gothenburg to cover the purchase price with city sales tax proceeds.

City voters overwhelmingly agreed in February 2018 to dedicate part of their sales tax proceeds to economic development under Legislative Bill 840, enacted in 1991, the same year the Baldwin plant opened.

Gothenburg won a three-way battle with other west-central Nebraska communities when Baldwin decided to expand.

The firm, which makes heavy-duty filters, was founded in Wisconsin in 1936 but relocated in 1953 to a portion of the former Kearney Army Air Base.

Its plant there dates to 1963.

Wyatt and Mayor Joyce Hudson said purchase of the former Baldwin plant will give Gothenburg the best chance to extend its history of economic development success.

Gothenburg Improvement Co. played a significant role in recruiting a half-dozen other employers to town, most notably Frito-Lay and Monsanto.

“If nothing else, this (purchase) shows the importance that Gothenburg residents place on taking care of our own,” Hudson said in the press release.

“As a community, approving the LB 840 measure was a way to say we care about those (employees) who were impacted by the Baldwin announcement and want to do something about it.”