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Garry Clark: Rich or poor, we are all renters. Be kind.

Garry Clark: Rich or poor, we are all renters. Be kind.

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This loss of life hurts. I can talk about business and entrepreneurs digging deep to innovate and move us forward.

Or I can talk about the complexities of COVID-19 and how its serious attempt at being a permanent fixture in our lives rivals hate and racism.

Garry Clark (copy) (copy) (copy) (copy)

Garry Clark

But more than anything else, amid the silence in the lost lives, the nonprofits fighting for families have been hit with a critical blow.

Our political leaders have struggled to focus on our lives over rhetorical and political sustainability, using our legislative and political system to placate average citizens with payments while thousands have lost loved ones.

You think those people care about your political affiliations, your cunning social-political-biased posts? Can you not see that we either grow together or perish apart?

And who are we to not see the truth? That our worst selves and best selves are the same people. That our justifications mean little when life’s moments are short and delicate.

We are all right at this moment of presumption, of thinking that a calendar year simply resets our path. Let me help you see the point ... our Roman calendar matters little to the moms wondering if the landlord will be kind, or to the elderly homeless person who’s hoping that the local nonprofit has more space or beds. If the worst of us are in your mind the poor, it is a clear reflection on the best of us that we can soothe ourselves by thinking that some margin of poverty is necessary for an abundance of economic vitality for the best of us. As my favorite Dana College professor would say, “That’s hogwash!”

This world we fight so hard to keep isn’t ours to keep at all, but to prepare for our little ones and their little ones and beyond. I read these Federalist Papers from a few centuries removed and these men, advanced and thoughtful, leaders and slavers, moral and immoral, the best of us and the worst of us, still found themselves bound by the truth, which is the elephant in every Nebraska home, American home and home abroad. We are all renters of this space, and it benefits no one after us to leave it a mess. We as parents expect to leave our security deposits for our little ones, so it would behoove us to keep this place clean, becoming of its future tenants and families, and ready for more.

Have you ever been a renter of anything? A home? A car? A vacation spot in Bora Bora, even? Ever been disappointed in the past renter? Ever felt like a home purchase needed extra work? Ever been evicted? Seen your personal belongings laid out on the street for all to see? Or lost your security deposit because you or those you lived with left a mess? Even when we consider ourselves owners, is it only momentary. It is clearly our human duty to leave this place better than we found it, more hopeful then we first knew it and hopefully with a universal momentum that transcends the challenges of our day.

It is my hope that our leaders, local and federal, find a way to dig deeper, to place themselves in the position of our first responders, our wage workers struggling, our nonprofit organizations seeking a clear way to help those in need. It is our time. As 2021 begins, it’s a clear opportunity for us to all do better, to prosper together, because our economic gains mean little if it doesn’t pull up those in need.

This is why I got into the economic development game. We can see the opportunities develop for families, that job creation with livable wages can enhance the overall quality of life. I’ve had the pleasure of working with local leaders in Fremont and Dodge County, the state Department of Economic Development, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Omaha Public Power District, the Nebraska Public Power District and countless organizations across the state, whose primary focus is quality of life through economic opportunity and meaningful jobs. Yet we all see the need for a more holistic economic environment that is woven into the needs of those with less.

As we fight to rebound from the woes of 2020, I ask all of you to dig deep, consider those less fortunate, not only in your donations but your policy making. I’d like to close with words that are far better than my own: We are stronger together.

Garry Clark is a husband and father of three. He’s the president and CEO of the Greater Fremont Development Council with 13 years of economic development experience in Nebraska, Florida and Washington, D.C. Clark is a graduate of Dana College and UNO, a published author, poet and TEDxOmaha speaker. He received the Midland Business Journal’s 40 under 40 award in 2018.

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