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Union Pacific Opens New HQ in Nebraska

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(photo from Union Pacific)

By AP/KWMU

Omaha, Neb. – Union Pacific Corp., which owns the largest railroad company in the U.S., opened its new $260 million headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska Wednesday.

The new building will bring together several office sites in downtown Omaha, as well as its St. Louis office. About 1,000 jobs in St. Louis are being moved to the new facility.

It features a glass-fronted atrium that floods every floor with natural light and it has a training center and a public dining room that seats 600. The building also has a credit union and a fitness center.

Employees have been moving into the building the last few weeks, even as indoor construction work continues. All employees are expected to be in the new building by the end of September.

Some controversy accompanied the project, which is likely to qualify for millions of dollars in state income, sales and property tax breaks under a pair of investment incentive laws in Nebraska. Companies qualify when they make certain investments in money and job creation.

Critics of the laws say benefits from the incentives are not worth the cost and they are granted at the expense of funding for education and other initiatives.

Nebraskans for Peace, which is spearheading a petition drive to repeal one of the incentives laws criticized Union Pacific in particular for saying the tax incentives were instrumental in building the headquarters and moving more than 1,000 jobs from St. Louis to Omaha.

"The Union Pacific project is the poster child for what is wrong with the Invest Nebraska Act," Nebraskans for Peace state coordinator Tim Rinne said. "We are subsidizing the shift of jobs from St. Louis to Omaha. No new jobs are being created in the railroad industry."

Union Pacific officials counter that the jobs brought to Nebraska will reap years of payroll and other benefits for that state. Without the tax breaks, the headquarters may not have been placed in Omaha, they said.

Union Pacific was founded in Omaha in the 1800s. It has nearly 8,000 employees in Nebraska and nearly 50,000 workers across its 33,000 miles of track in the western two-thirds of the country.

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