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Fall is here. Crisp autumn evenings, the changing of the leaves, and the mad dash to get the crops out of the field. It can’t be said often enough—there is no place like Nebraska.
Some of the discussion during the recent special session on redistricting brought up what appears to be a growing divide between urban and rural areas of our state. In this frame of mind, Lincoln and everything east is considered “urban” and everything west of Lincoln is “rural”.
In order for our state to be as prosperous, efficient and successful as it has all the potential to be, this is a counter-productive way of thinking. A symbiotic relationship must be maintained with all of the industries in our state, whether they are agricultural, financial, industrial, insurance, technological, etc.
All of us in the state benefit from reasonably priced food, cheaper fuel through the use of renewables, and from the byproducts of production agriculture. According to the 2017 Economic Impact of the Nebraska Agricultural Production Complex from UNL’s Department of Agricultural Economics, “…between one-fifth and one-fourth of Nebraska’s economy can be attributed to the agricultural production complex. Few other states have an economy with this degree of agricultural prominence.” The study also found that “The total employment impact of the agricultural production complex was estimated to be 320,642 jobs in 2017, or 23.3% of total Nebraska employment.”
I can’t account for all of the reasons why Western Nebraska is diminishing in population. Our quality of life rivals, and I think in many areas exceeds that of the urban centers of any state. There are good people, great schools, exposure to the arts, access to technology and industry, and recreational opportunities. Common sense and traditional values are treasured in Nebraska, especially in rural Nebraska.
Often times when we send our children for higher education in a bigger city, they are drawn to the pace, culture and amenities urban life has to offer. Plus, television, movies and other media lay out the tantalizing allure of “bright lights and big city.” Many economic developers in central and western Nebraska are proactively recruiting new businesses and industries, and are working to combat the so-called “brain drain.” I wish them success in their endeavors. Additional efforts to enhance broadband telecommunications and other technologies will also help. We must make every effort to insure that citizens living great distances from Lincoln are not disenfranchised.
I would welcome any comments, questions or ideas you may have on this or any other issue. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com or call my office at 402-471-2732.
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