Community Development News

Center joins property tax reform and education coalition

As the Nebraska Legislature continues with its session, there have been many tax reform bills introduced by senators and our governor. At the Center for Rural Affairs, we believe in a more balanced tax system for Nebraska taxpayers. When I think of what makes rural Nebraska thrive, I think back to my hometown. I think about the public school that directed me through my young life and the determined property owners, farmers and small business owners who line the town square.

What if the workers owned it?

The owners of a mid-sized manufacturing plant in a nearby small town were ready to retire, but no one in the next generation was interested in taking over.

The plant was sold to an out-of-state buyer with no local ties. The business was profitable, but the new owners chose to merge operations and close the local plant.

The story is familiar in small towns. Is there an alternative? I think so. Worker-owned co-ops and employee stock ownership plans could offer another path forward for these businesses.

Embracing diversity to help communities thrive

The faces of rural Nebraska have changed during the past 20 years as immigrants from many countries seek to live, work and raise families in the Midwest’s small towns and wide-open spaces.

Immigrants are opening businesses, shopping, working and making an economic impact in rural Nebraska. Communities that may have slowly disappeared from the map are now thriving because of diversity. And in some communities, the minority has become the majority.

Workforce housing is critical to vibrant rural communities

Affordable workforce housing is an important need in Nebraska. LB 518, the proposed Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act, lays out challenges of limited and aging housing in rural communities; cost and contractor barriers to construction in rural communities; and the negative impact of low housing availability on the ability of employers to bring in and keep the workers they need.

The Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act provides one possible step towards a rural housing solution, although its definition of rural areas is inconsistent with more commonly used measures.


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