LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a bill Monday that will devote $335 million to recovery efforts in Nebraska’s underserved communities, particularly areas in North and South Omaha.
LB 1024 allocates the dollars to projects that would support affordable housing, infrastructure improvements, crime prevention projects and other recovery initiatives.
“Now the real work begins,” said State Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha, who introduced the bill.
LB 1024 was initially only meant to target parts of North Omaha, and was dubbed the “North Omaha Recovery Act.” But after negotiating with other lawmakers, Wayne expanded the bill to encompass South Omaha, parts of Lincoln and rural areas with high concentrations of low-income residents. The bill’s name has since been changed to the “Economic Recovery Act.”
Wayne said other lawmakers are already talking with him about what services are needed in the included districts outside of North Omaha. Now that LB 1024 has been signed into law, Wayne said the work will begin immediately.
Wayne said the first step is the formation of a committee to develop a request for proposal, or RFP, and engage with the community to figure out the biggest needs.
Although no specific projects have been solidified so far, Wayne said a top priority will be hiring a “master developer,” which will likely take the form of a contractor that oversees the major development projects in the area.
Beyond that, Wayne said the project will likely move onto developing a business park and advancing affordable housing efforts.
Of the $335 million allocated for LB 1024, a majority — more than $200 million — comes from federal ARPA dollars. Most of the remaining money comes from Nebraska’s general fund, cash reserve and a coronavirus capital projects fund.