Nebraska and the Omaha metro area extended their streaks of top honors from Site Selection magazine for racking up economic development projects.
For the second year in a row, Nebraska was recognized as having the most economic development projects per capita among states. Nebraska tallied 110 projects in 2017, besting its own total of 101 last year, according to the magazine.
The Omaha and Lincoln metro areas were big contributors to the Nebraska total.
Omaha led a list of top-10 midsize metro areas with 42 projects, the third year in a row it was No. 1, while Lincoln, with 27 projects, came in ninth on the same list, ahead of Des Moines at 10th.
Sioux City, Iowa, with a metro area extending into Nebraska, topped a list of small metro areas, with 26 projects, double that of the small metro area with the second-most projects.
David Brown, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber, said the chamber’s model of working collaboratively with counties and cities throughout the metro area is key to its success.
“This is what it’s all about when it comes to accomplishing more together,” he said.
Teamwork among economic development officials and state agencies also contributes to Nebraska’s development success as a whole, Gov. Pete Ricketts said. A strong workforce and warm welcomes from local communities help seal deals, he said in accepting the Governor’s Cup award.
Site Selection declined to provide a full list of projects included in Nebraska’s 110, saying it was proprietary.
But the magazine said some of the projects that pushed Omaha and the state to the top of the lists included:
— Construction of a new Facebook data center in Papillion.
— Construction of a new Costco poultry processing plant in Fremont.
— Three projects in Blair, including a collaboration agreement between Cargill and Swiss biotech company Evolva to produce a stevia sweetener.
— Development in Council Bluffs, including the West Broadway reconstruction and the mixed-use River’s Edge project.
Ricketts said that to drive further growth, the state must find ways to keep young people in Nebraska and prepare them to find their place in the state’s growing workforce.
“We’ve got to let our young people know there are great career opportunities in science and technology, manufacturing and construction — a lot of things that may not require that four-year degree but certainly require some postsecondary education,” he said.