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It’s not a secret. Smaller communities are growing. However, some things are still hindering further growth. That’s what the economic developers from across the state talked about Tuesday afternoon as they gathered for a networking meeting at Imperial II Steakhouse in Neligh.
But it wasn’t just networking that took place.
The main topic was strategies and ideas to improve on in the future. More people, means more houses. And that is what Director of the Department of Economic Development Courtney Dentlinger, is concerned about. “If we want to bring more people into this state, we need places for them to live,” Dentlinger explained. “And what we are finding is that in a lot of these communities, housing is in very short supply.”
Housing was a huge concern voiced by many communities. The different development departments brainstormed on how to improve and grow as a region.
“So we are looking as a state, how we can help promote additional growth in the housing market, and what we can do to recruit people back to the state,” said Dentlinger. “And make sure we are giving the message to our young people that there are great opportunities right here in Nebraska.”
Dentlinger said that the state works together to grow. One community’s success can help the whole area understand what works best to continue to expand. In the economic development world, everyone helps everyone. “What I love about economic development and getting folks together from regional levels and individual communities is it is really a team sport,” Dentlinger explained. “We are all in this together. Lots of people have great innovative ideas. All of the solutions are not going to come from the state level. What we need to do is partner and make sure we are sharing all of the information and all of the ideas and helping to grow each community across the state of Nebraska.”
Another thing that was discussed was how to show younger kids that there are careers in smaller communities.
Dentlinger says that this is also important to continue the growth. “Let’s expose them to the great careers in the stem fields so they can take the appropriate course work while they are still in school. Go into the appropriate fields, whether it a community college or a university system, so they can come back and contribute to our economy.”