Ricketts Hails North Omaha Revitalization Bill

April 28, 2022, 4 p.m. ·

Governor Pete Ricketts speaks at ceremony celebrating economic revitalization legislation Thursday (Photo by Fred Knapp, Nebraska Public Media)
Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks at ceremony celebrating economic revitalization legislation Thursday (Photo by Fred Knapp, Nebraska Public Media)

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Governor Pete Ricketts on Thursday hailed legislation designed to revitalize North Omaha and other impoverished areas as an opportunity to spread the state’s prosperity to all Nebraskans

At a ceremony at Metropolitan Community College in North Omaha. Ricketts said Nebraska’s economy is doing well, but that that prosperity needs to be shared.

“We can’t be a healthy state if every Nebraskan doesn’t enjoy the growth and prosperity. Being a part growing Nebraska shouldn’t depend on the zip code,” Ricketts said.

Ricketts said the economic recovery package in LB1024, which he put at $336 million, will be used for affordable housing, infrastructure, crime prevention, financial literacy, job training and education. The package is primarily targeted at predominantly African American North Omaha, but also includes funding for predominantly Hispanic South Omaha as well as other census tracts around the state with high poverty and unemployment.

Sen. Justin Wayne, who introduced the legislation, called it historic.

“This is the first time ever that our state has invested this amount of dollars into our community. It’s historic from that standpoint, but it’s also a little scary because now the work begins. It was actually kind of fun passing a bill. Now I’m actually nervous about what’s going to happen. And I want to stress this: We’ll never get a opportunity like this again if we don’t use these dollars wisely, efficiently and effectively,” Wayne said.

Plans include constructing a business park near Eppley Airfield, where Director of Economic Development Tony Goins says he wants to attract a big technology company employing 500-1,000 people at salaries of $45,000 or more.

And Osie Combs, president of Pacific Engineering, said his company plans to start manufacturing operations there in August or September, and hopes to expand to employ 50 to 100 people there eventually. The company now employs 30 people in Roca, just south of Lincoln.