News

Energy efficiency can help rural families save money

Families below the poverty line spend 8 percent of their income on electricity, a much larger proportion than higher income families, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

And in rural areas, 17.7 percent of families live below the poverty line, as noted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Energy efficiency provides an affordable way to decrease power consumption and electric bills. Developing local renewable energy generation also keeps hard-earned dollars in the state and brings new economic development to rural communities.

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.

Tax credits should help the distressed

The most effective and desirable economic development strategy for many rural communities is small entrepreneurship. Small businesses are especially important today, as opportunities to attract large employers to remote rural areas diminish.

For the past decade, the Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit has played an essential role in helping these businesses get started. Passed in 2005, the act provides tax credits to applicants for creating or expanding microbusinesses that contribute to the revitalization of economically distressed areas.

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