Our economic system tends to spur the greatest growth opportunities in Nebraska’s largest cities. The pattern, stemming from fundamental market conditions, is seen throughout the country. But it’s important that states make sure that their economic incentives promote rural areas too.
The Nebraska Legislature sent that needed message recently by giving first-round approval to an incentive proposal to help small communities. Under Legislative Bill 40, communities of less than 100,000 in population can apply for state economic incentives to develop industrial rail access business parks.
The state, through 2023, would provide a match of $2 for every $1 invested by a local community of up to $2.5 million, and $5 for every $1 invested above $2.5 million. The bill sponsor, State Sen. Mike Groene, is from North Platte, one of Nebraska’s most noted railroad communities.
The incentive, modeled on a concept approved last year for a potential Omaha project, would have great benefit for North Platte, Groene says. The town has lost population and its county, Lincoln, is one of 66 Nebraska counties with a declining population.
“Rural Nebraska has a lot to offer to the state if we help it grow,” the senator said.
Absolutely. If the phrase “we’re one Nebraska” is to have genuine meaning, our elected leaders must work to make sure that economic opportunity extends throughout the state. It’s encouraging to see lawmakers support that principle this session.