In December, the State of North Omaha address outlined the drop in crime and the improvement that area of the city has seen thanks to organizations like the Empowerment Network.
Saturday, the community came together again to talk about the plan to keep things moving forward in 2017.
While the beginning of the year did bring two tragic homicides to North Omaha, both Captain Scott Gray of the Northeast Precinct, and president of the Empowerment Network Willie Barney said that the recent violence doesn’t reflect the positive growth the area is seeing.
“It's tragic that we've already had two homicides in North Omaha, but hopefully because of the relationships that the Police Department has developed…those are relationships that will get information,” said Captain Gray.
“I think the positive results that we saw specifically around reducing gun violence and homicides. We're not where we want to be, but we saw a 13 year low and we want to keep pressing forward,” said Barney.
“Coming Together: One Common Agenda” was the theme of the North Omaha 2017 community meeting where Barney presented findings that things are improving for the African American community there.
“We made progress on unemployment. We've gone from a high at one point of 22% down to about 10.8% for African Americans, but obviously 10.8% is still not where we want to be,” said Barney.
“I’m excited for North Omaha. I worked the majority of my career, 20 plus years, in North Omaha, and I’ve seen a lot of growth and development and improvement,” said Captain Gray.
Areas for growth included home and business ownership. Two businesses in North Omaha had grand openings Saturday – The Union for Contemporary Arts and 101.3 Mind & Soul radio station.
“I mean it's an amazing time…if you look at all the various things that are going on. The redevelopment of 24th and Lake-the redevelopment of 30th St….there’s so many positive developments…we really want to look at and celebrate the progress that’s being made”
You can learn more about the events that will be held this year and the organizations that work with the Empowerment Network by visiting their website at empoweromaha.com.
Some of the data presented at the meeting is listed below.
· The current unemployment rate for African-Americans in Omaha is 10.8%.
· The unemployment rate for Hispanics in Omaha is 8.7% and for Caucasians is 4.2%.
· The poverty rate among African Americans in Omaha has fallen from 33.8% to 29.8% since 2005.
· The poverty rate among Hispanics is 26.2% and among Caucasians is 8.3%.
· Homeownership among African Americans is down from 39% to 35.2% since 2006.
· African-American owned businesses have risen from 1761 businesses in 2007 to 3349 in 2012.
· Only 200 of these businesses have employees.
Source: American Community Survey, U.S Census Bureau 2000, 5 Year Reports 2005-2009 to 2011-2015 Compiled and Prepared by: David Drozd – Research Coordinator – UNO and Willie Barney – Empowerment Network