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The people of Western Nebraska are some of the hardest working and most values driven people in America. Whenever disaster strikes, we come together as a community and rebuild. We help our neighbors, we are civic-minded, and we work together to make our communities strong.
Perhaps the best evidence of what I am talking about is the resurgence of the city of Sidney after the 2017 sale of Cabela’s Sporting Goods Store to Bass Pro Shops. When Tucker Carlson of Fox News exposed the vulture capitalism of Paul Singer for orchestrating the sale of Cabela’s through his Elliott Management hedge fund, he cast the city of Sidney in a negative light as if it has remained in a perpetual state of hopelessness and despair ever since the merger, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The people of Sidney never took the sale of Cabela’s lying down. Even after losing two thousand jobs, the city has rebounded. Instead of caving into a spirit of hopelessness and despair, the people came together and rebuilt their own town. The people who live in Sidney today, live there because they want to live there. Nobody is stuck or being held captive by the housing market in Sidney today. Contrary to the opinion of Tucker Carlson, more than one thousand new family units have moved into the city and today there are only 72 houses for sale in the city.
The citizens of Sidney are a resilient people who have overcome these kinds of obstacles several times throughout their history. The city faced similar problems during the Black Hills gold rush, the oil boom, and when the military relocated its fort and its weapons depot, and every time the city has found a way to recover.
I believe Sidney will become an even stronger city than when Cabela’s was headquartered there. Since the sale of Cabela’s 24 new businesses have moved into the city. Sidney is becoming stronger because it no longer has to rely upon one primary employer. As more and more small businesses move to Sidney, the city will only grow stronger and more resilient to economic changes.
Despite the loss of some two thousand jobs, the school system in Sidney has done remarkably well. Attendance in the schools has remained steady and academics have excelled. Sidney High School, for example, was recognized this year as one of only six high schools in Nebraska to receive the National Blue Ribbon Award. The award is given to schools for academic performance and for closing the achievement gaps among various student subgroups.
I believe it is important for the nation to see how Sidney has recovered from the sale of Cabela’s. In many ways, Sidney has become the model for cities with similar circumstances. Instead of throwing in the towel, the resilient people of Sidney took back their city and have transformed it into a jewel of Western Nebraska.