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Recent posts by Brian Depew

Remembering Jeff Reynolds

It is with a heavy heart that I write to share the news that Jeff Reynolds passed away unexpectedly on April 20, 2017. Jeff directed the Center's small business development program, the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project, or REAP, as it is widely known in Nebraska. He was a veteran staff member, having worked for the Center since 1994.

We will miss his dedication, his good spirit, his can-do attitude, and his uplifting presence.

From the desk of the executive director: The president, rural voters and our future

Rural voters had a moment following last fall’s election. The national media showed up in force seeking to understand them. Enough rural voters had switched party allegiance to account for Trump’s victory over Clinton in several key Midwest and Rust Belt states. 

Frustration over the economic plight facing their community drove many of these voters. For our readers and those who have studied rural issues for decades, this may come as little surprise. 

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.

Proposal to cut income taxes misguided

In the face of a budget shortfall, some political leaders in Lincoln are clamoring to cut income taxes for the wealthiest Nebraskans.

The move would compound our real challenge. It’s property taxes that Nebraskans are asking lawmakers to look at.

The Center for Rural Affairs has long held that state revenue should be balanced among property, sales and income tax. Today, property tax accounts for 36 percent of revenue; sales tax, 30 percent; and income tax, just 26 percent.

Income tax is already the shortest of the three revenue legs.

From the desk of the Executive Director: What if the workers owned it?

The sale and closure of a midsize manufacturing plant in a nearby small town got me thinking.

The business was home-grown, but no one in the next generation was interested in taking the helm. The owners were ready to retire, and they needed to sell the business. 

The buyer was from out of state. The business was profitable, but the new owner had no ties to the local community. 

You know how this ends. 

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