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Slow state growth on the radar of the Omaha Chamber

Posted at 11:24 PM, Mar 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 00:24:42-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Growing the population in the state of Nebraska has been an ongoing mission. It grew from 2018 to 2019, but at a rate that's concerning for some. Those with the Greater Omaha Chamber are optimistic for the future but also know the issues that could happen down the road, if growth remains slow.

"Population growth in the state is just not growing fast enough," said David Brown, President of the Greater Omaha Chamber. Brown keeps an eye on census numbers, which showed Nebraska's population grew by less than 1% from 2018-2019. "(That) doesn't get us where we need to be by 2030 or 2040 and the number of people that are in the state that we can then provide the number of workers in the state that companies are going to need," said Brown.

Brown says if Nebraska continues to only grow by 1% or less until 2040, it will not meet those demands, which has long term consequences for the state's workforce. "Companies will not grow here, they may continue to stay here but they won't be investing in new jobs and new investments here."

If the market is struggling, things like quality of life can take a hit. So one big thing they've been addressing is transportation. "We view transportation as a center part of the economic development strategy for the region," said Stephen Osberg of the Greater Omaha Chamber.

Nebraska also saw more people move out of the state then those that moved in from 2018 to 2019. Osberg says providing people ways to easily get to and from their jobs will help keep them here. "Connecting people who are in parts of town where there are high concentrations of unemployed, underemployed people, can we actually connect them to the parts of the metro area where we see the greatest job growth."

Osberg has helped create a set of goals and plans called "Connect Go" which is looking to address those needs. The chamber has also been working with "Blueprint Nebraska" which says the state needs create incentives to help attract younger workers, focus on diversity, and to improve overall quality of life, to not only keep people here but grow the population something which brown remains hopeful about.

"I think this partnership that we have here of philanthropy, private money, public money and the a common commitment to make this place grow is going to be one of those things that makes us stand out over time," said Brown.

To check out the "Blueprint Nebraska" plans visit blueprint-nebraska.org