- Associated Press - Friday, April 13, 2018

GRETNA, Neb. (AP) - The billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade is selling bread to help cover operating costs at the multimillion-dollar religious retreat center he’s building in eastern Nebraska.

Joe Ricketts‘ facility, The Cloisters on the Platte, welcomes donations, but attendees won’t be charged for the retreat. Ricketts hopes bread sales will supplement donations to pay the bills for the Ignatian center along the Platte River, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

“If we charged a fee, there would be some people who would not be able to come,” said Ricketts, who is also the Nebraska governor’s father. “And those are the people we don’t want to have to stay away because of cost.”

Ricketts wouldn’t disclose how much the center near Gretna has cost so far. The project’s price tag is near $20 million, according to building permits. Ricketts bought the land for an additional $13.6 million in 2014.

The bread was stocked at local stores starting about a month ago. The bread is made by Rotella’s Italian Bakery in La Vista. One loaf costs $2, and 20 cents goes toward the retreat center.

Ricketts declined to say how much money the bread has made. But he hopes product sales will help build up a reserve for the religious center in the event of an “adverse financial situation.”

The bread is just the beginning, Ricketts said.

“We’ve got 10 to 15 (products) in the works at the current time,” he said.

The center is geared toward Catholics but open to all faiths. The facility will host its first retreat in mid-July.

Construction is on schedule to meet that deadline, according to Ricketts.

He anticipates that the center will need a waiting list. More than 7,000 people have indicated interest in the retreat, but the center can only hold fewer than 4,000.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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