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Dept. of Economic Development office coming to North Omaha

Councilmember Gray calls for collaboration with current initiatives
Posted at 6:28 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 03:48:06-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Monday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced a field office for the Department of Economic Development will be put in North Omaha.

Ricketts said that while Nebraska has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, he wants that to apply to all races.

"We have the highest workforce participation rate in the country. We want to continue to see that type of development but it has to apply to everybody. It's got to apply to folks who are urban and rural, it’s got to apply to folks in agricultural technology, it's got to apply to folks who are white, Black, Latino, Native American. Everybody’s got to participate," Ricketts said.

Omaha City Council member Ben Gray said the office is a good first step, but it needs the correct resources to be truly helpful for the community.

“There has to be resources to meet the task, it has to be staffed to meet the task,” said Gray. “More importantly, there has to be understanding and connection with the community and the agencies within the community if we’re going to make this work. Otherwise, it’s just a feel good program that goes away when the governor goes away.”

The office, which is set to open in January of 2021, will initially be staffed with one full-time staff member. Tony Goins, the director of the Department of Economic Development, is intended to break barriers and create new opportunities.

"The field office will help our department further execute the Governor's vision of growing Nebraska through efforts such as attracting businesses and job creators, providing support through entrepreneurship through local expansion, developing the workforce, growing the housing inventory which is really critical and vibrant place making," Goins said.

Gray said the key to the office being successful in meeting the community's needs is to collaborate with already existing initiatives.

"You’re not going to do anything in a bubble by yourself and that’s why I talk about collaboration. We have people in this community who have been building and working in this community for decades," Gray said. "I and others in this community are about action, are about getting things done, are about rolling up your sleeves up, are about spending the amount of time it takes to get something going so that’s what I’m going to want to see. If you’re not going to commit the resources, if you’re not going to commit the dollars, if you’re not going to commit the staff, if you’re not going to collaborate, the key here more than anything else is collaboration."

Goins said the department plans on working with local business owners, the chamber of commerce, universities and more to achieve their goals.

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