OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — While one of the goals of the State of North Omaha Summit was to look ahead to the next five years, there was plenty of jubilation of what has already been accomplished.
In 2015, community leaders made a series of ambitious goals and six years later, they appear to be on their way.
That includes adding over 1,100 youth jobs, getting jobs for thousands of unemployed folks, creating over 300 new businesses and adding over 1,000 housing units.
“We need to be able to press forward, continue to do the work, so that our community is positively impacted and that the community owns, and at the end of the day, the community is building wealth," says founder and president of the Empowerment Network, Willie Barney.
The forum addressed several bills that North Omaha State Senators Justin Wayne and Terrell McKinney put forward, along with a few bills community members think would hurt North Omaha.
Police Chief Todd Schmaderer has been to Lincoln to testify at least once on police related bills, but said he’ll be expanding his scope in the next few weeks.
“If it addresses a root cause, I think we should start getting involved in that, and I’m not so sure we have been as prevalent with that in the past. But we wanted to start and make an impact on that," says Schmaderer.
Superintendent of Omaha Public Schools Cheryl Logan said in the summit that her district is one of the few urban school districts in the country to fully reopen classrooms.
But she says it will take time to catch up some students who have been remote learning for almost a year.
“We see this as a three year effort on recovery, in terms of learning, that hasn’t happened. It’s not going to be this summer when it happens, all of it,” says Logan.
Black-owned businesses were also celebrated including North End Teleservices, which opened as a startup in 2016 and now has hundreds of employees.
But she says it’s not all good news, as there were struggles along the way, including racism as she tried to get her business off the ground.
“I’ve actually had a bank say to me, 'I’d loan you the money but if you didn't pay me back, I’d have to send somebody to break your kneecaps,' and that was said to me in a corporate conference room,” says owner of North End Teleservices, Carmen Tapio.
All in all, people left the virtual meeting with optimism, as they try to keep their momentum going.
“We have the people at the table right now to ensure the next generation don’t have to deal with the problems of the previous generations or even the current generations,” says Jonathan Chapman of the Empowerment Network.
Watch the summit below.