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Local businesses help during shutdown

January 14, 2019

SCOTTSBLUFF — Friday was the first day that thousands of federal government workers didn’t receive a paycheck due to the ongoing shutdown affecting numerous agencies.

Until the government reopens, several local businesses have stepped up to help their neighbors

Hod Kosman, CEO and president of Platte Valley Companies, said this is the second time his bank has extended credit to federal employees in western Nebraska, eastern Wyoming and northern Colorado.

A federal government shutdown in 2013 was more widespread than the current situation, but Platte Valley Banks offered zero interest loans for the duration of the shutdown.

“Once the government reopens, federal employees will get their back pay and will be able to repay the loan interest free,” Kosman said. “Right now we just want to keep people whole. I hope this shutdown gets resolved soon, but it’s out of my hands.”

First State Bank has also been helping its customers with similar emergencies for more than a decade. They’ve been offering an interest-free loan product to help people with short-term cash flow needs. In a prepared statement, the bank said those loans are also available to federal government workers that are affected by the ongoing shutdown.

Dan Carter, senior vice president with Western States Bank said they will also accommodate their customers.

“We understand some of our federal employees are probably going through some financial issues,” Carter said. “We’ll be looking at deferring payments, extending payments and offering additional credit to qualified customers until the government reopens.”

Nebraska Public Power District provides electricity to much of the state. Mark Becker, NPPD’s supervisor of corporate media, said the utility plans to work individually with customers that may have difficulty paying their electric bills and come up with a plan that works for each customer’s specific needs.

Statistics from the Nebraska Department of Labor for the second quarter of 2018 show federal employees working in 20 different industry sectors in Scotts Bluff County.

From April to June 2018, the average 144 employees accounted for just over $2.2 million in total wages for the period. The average weekly wage was $1,198.