A timely plan

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Nebraska well positioned to thrive and grow post-COVID

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  • Kurt Johnson
    Kurt Johnson
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What a breath of fresh air.
Amidst rising concern with a COVID pandemic that has thrown a wrench in so many well-made plans, there was some very encouraging news last week regarding Nebraska’s potential to come out of this crisis poised for real, positive growth.
The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry went virtual with its annual fall forum, like so many others have been forced to do. Those who tuned in to a 90-minute Zoom session heard some welcome news in 2020 for a change, suggesting that the Cornhusker state has weathered the pandemic storm better than most states, economically, and is poised to make significant gains once the world gets back to normal. (See more details on that meeting in a story on this week’s ANR business page.)
Chamber officials are of course expected to look for a positive spin, but what stood out in this forum was the data-driven rationale behind the optimism. Unemployment is up slightly in Nebraska at just under 4 percent, for example, though that is way below the spike so many other states have experienced. That’s not a cause for celebration, necessarily, but a perspective that is helpful in these challenging times.
We applauded the Blueprint Nebraska initiative previously in this space, which brought statewide business leaders together in hopes of developing some very specific growth strategies. That document was unveiled long before the pandemic hit and now looks to be an invaluable economic road map moving forward. 
For example, the needs to shorten supply chains and enhance broadband infrastructure have become higher priorities during this pandemic, and on both counts Nebraska is positioned well. Blueprint Nebraska highlighted the need to diversify and expand the state’s agribusiness sector, as well as to enhance broadband infrastructure. The needed steps have been identified and key partners are already at the table to make things happen.
Hamilton County, in fact, is poised to prosper as well. You can’t help but notice when looking over that document that our community has many of the pieces in place, including a strong fiber network, a diversified base of agriculture and manufacturing companies, a competitive tax environment as well as local leaders ready and willing to work together to make things happen. 
Just last month the Aurora Development Corporation reported an increased focus on recruiting business and industry to the area, with land, infrastructure and a competitive tax environment available. That echoes many of Blueprint Nebraska initiatives, giving our community a huge running start.
Nobody knows how long we’ll be fighting this COVID fight, but it is helpful, and hopeful, to know that Nebraska and Hamilton County are well positioned to not only survive, but thrive going forward.
Kurt Johnson

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