With 50 new and expanded corporate development projects last year, the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area ranked No. 1 for U.S. cities in its population category, according to Site Selection magazine.
Adam Bruns, managing editor of Atlanta-based Site Selection, announced the publication’s findings Thursday morning at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s downtown headquarters.
Gov. Pete Ricketts, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and the mayor of Fremont, among others, attended the event.
It’s the second year in a row that the greater Omaha area has received the top ranking among metro areas with populations of 200,000 to 1 million; the area also earned the top ranking for growth in 2013.
Greater Omaha’s 50 projects ranked ahead of No. 2 Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with 48, and Dayton, Ohio, with 45.
In 2015 the Omaha area had 55 projects; that same year the Lincoln metro area with 28 projects ranked seventh in the same category. Last year Lincoln was not among the top 10.
The state of Nebraska won the Governor’s Cup in Site Selection’s per capita contest, with 101 projects per 1 million population. Bruns presented the silver cup to Ricketts.
Ricketts told an audience of more than 50 business and civic leaders that he plans to continue his efforts to make Nebraska a
low-cost state for businesses, and develop the state’s “secret weapon”: its “hardworking, loyal, customer service-oriented workforce.”
In a separate category, the state of Texas also won a 2016 Governor’s Cup for the most qualified projects, 642, of any state, followed by Ohio with 515 and Illinois with 434.
Last year greater Omaha received more than $612 million in new capital investments, according to Site Selection, which reports on economic development throughout the United States.
David Brown, the chamber’s president and chief executive, said the key to economic growth is regional collaboration.
“We celebrate the latest top ranking with all of our partner counties, city leaders and the Nebraska and Iowa Departments of Economic Development,” Brown said in a prepared statement. “We’re all driven by the same goal — the higher quality of life that comes from a steady rush of new jobs and investment.”
“The next step is winning it again,” he told the event’s audience.
Site Selection focuses on new corporate facilities and expansions. It does not track retail, government or school and hospital projects.
To be counted, projects must meet three criteria: involve an investment of at least $1 million, create at least 20 new jobs and add at least 20,000 square feet of new floor area.
Among the nation’s largest metro areas (population 1 million or more), Chicago ranked first with 376 announced projects in 2016.
Sioux City, Iowa-Nebraska-South Dakota, ranked first among metro areas with a population of 50,000 to 200,000.
A sampling of greater Omaha’s announced 2016 projects:
» Tyson Fresh Meats, a Tyson Foods subsidiary: $27 million production facility expansion in Council Bluffs
» Thrasher Inc.: Construction of a new $35 million headquarters in La Vista that will house Thrasher and Foundation Supportworks, a sister contracting company
» Structural Component Systems Inc.: a $3 million investment in a long-term lease and new equipment, and the addition of 30 jobs.