Although much Nebraska's population resides in urban Lincoln and Omaha, the quality of life that we advertise to the rest of the country (as do the previously-mentioned cities) is celebrated most by rural Nebraskans. Most encouraging are the successes had by rural communities across the state who have utilized funds from the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act (LB840) to fund activities that enhance their economic vitality and encourages population retention. Consider our neighbor to the (far) north in Ord. Like Ravenna, Ord passed LB840. Since the inception of its economic development program, Ord has experienced tremendous success in the form of significant local investment, business retention and expansion, and momentous job creation. These successes have not gone unnoticed. Recently the Omaha World Herald celebrated the manner in which Ord is addressing its housing shortage, a result of significant job creation. They have also received national attention for their efforts.
I argue that Ord is not alone. I could write a book simply exploring the achievements rural Nebraska communities have enjoyed as a result of their forward-thinking policies and programs. Cambridge, NE has enjoyed the fruits of a well-administered economic development program: simply drive through the community and enjoy all of the updated storefronts or its new subdivision. Each and every year, Rural Nebraska communities make top-100 lists of the best places to live in the U.S. This is no mistake. We Nebraskans take great pride in the communities we live; we attend public meetings, we help our neighbors without being asked, we volunteer much of our free time and our communities are better for it. So I encourage you not to change your ways; keep volunteering, engage local leaders and decision-makers, and carry on down the path of progress so we can continue to show the rest of the world why there is no place like Nebraska.