20190513_new_lavista_rs002 (copy)

Work continues on City Centre developments, which is near Park View Boulevard and 84th Street. The development was once the La Vista golf course.

Sarpy County is on a dramatic population trajectory, growing from nearly 159,000 in 2010 to 184,000 now and a projected total topping 300,000 by 2050. As Nebraska’s fastest growing county, Sarpy will have an enormous impact on the future of the Omaha metropolitan area. The growth also places big responsibilities on Sarpy government, school districts and other institutions to manage the growth successfully.

Bryan Slone, president of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, points to one of the biggest effects that Sarpy County growth will have in the near future: Given the county’s impressive growth, the total population for the Omaha metro area (865,000 in 2010) is on track to top 1 million sometime in the mid-2020s. Crossing that threshold will put the metro area on the radar screen for corporations that limit their investment searches to areas of at least 1 million. This change clearly has the potential to open up major new economic opportunities for our region.

To land large-scale projects, the Omaha metro area will need to demonstrate that it meets key qualifications, including a skilled workforce, a business-friendly environment, strong schools, well-planned transportation and civic amenities attractive to families. These are challenges for any ambitious U.S. region, but the more that Sarpy leaders can demonstrate that they’re addressing them, the stronger the economic prospects for individual communities and for the Omaha metro area as a whole.

Sarpy County can point to a considerable set of pluses, not least its notable population growth of 79% during 1990-2018. That’s more than double that for Douglas County (35.6%). The median income in Sarpy is an impressive $72,000, according to the Sarpy County Economic Development Corporation, a public-private collaboration that is a member of the Greater Omaha Chamber’s Economic Development Partnership.

Over the past five years, economic recruiters have landed more than 40 projects in Sarpy County exceeding $3.2 billion in capital investment and creating more than 700 retained jobs.

Such growth requires Sarpy’s municipal governments to plan well in regard to expanded fire and police protection, land-use planning and orderly annexations. Papillion and Gretna have sent a positive signal on this score by settling their disagreement over access to a future interchange at Interstate 80 and 192nd Street. Their agreement set the right tone, providing predictability for businesses and residents.

Amid this ongoing growth, the Sarpy County Board will face continuing decisions about road construction and maintenance. It’s encouraging that Sarpy leaders are supporting recent steps toward regional transportation planning for the Omaha metro area. Such practical coordination makes great sense in the effort to expand transportation options and provide long-term improvements for efficient worker access to places of employment.

At the State Capitol, Sarpy County will likely have expanded clout in the Legislature, since the county’s population growth will boost its number of state senators.

Sarpy County continues to expand its impact on the Omaha metro area. Residents have great potential for new economic opportunities and an enhanced quality of life, provided that local government and institutions manage the growth successfully.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.