Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Friday, April 01, 2005

Building a New Rural Economy in Nebraska

-- from the desk Jon Bailey, Director Rural Research and Analysis Program
Center for Rural Affairs

The decisions the Legislature and the Governor make in the coming days may determine the fate and future of rural Nebraska.

The Legislature has before it a comprehensive, common-sense and cost-effective rural economic development package to help ensure a viable and sustainable future. They need only to act.

Four bills and provisions in the Governor’s proposed budget fit together to create this new rural policy model. They are not – as some Senators have stated – disparate measures with no common purpose. They are all pieces of a comprehensive rural revitalization package advanced by the Governor’s appointed Nebraska Rural Development Commission.

LB 273, the Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act, and LB 28, the Endow Nebraska Act, will mobilize communities and public and private resources to begin planning economic development within and between communities.

LB 71 would provide grants for farmer and rancher-owned cooperatives, and LB 309 would provide tax relief to small business owners and an incentive for those seeking to start and grow small businesses.

In rural Nebraska, opportunities come from entrepreneurship, specifically small businesses and value-added agriculture. During the 1990s, over 70 percent of job growth in rural Nebraska came from small, non-agricultural businesses. Currently nearly one-in-three private, non-farm jobs in rural Nebraska come from small businesses with five or fewer employees.

Together, these proposals and bills would cost the state about $6 million. This represents less than FOUR percent of what the state currently spends on tax incentives for big business expansion and recruitment.

The future of rural Nebraska is surely worth that.

Rural Nebraskans should not be fooled by the messages from the Legislature about a lack of funds and the need for a comprehensive rural economic development policy.

The time for study is past.

It is time to act.


  • At 9:48 AM, Blogger Nick said…

    LB 28 has an estimated cost of $2.5 million to state revenue. The challenge for this bill is proving that the recipients of the charitable contributions (community foundations) are more capable than the legislature in investing this $2.5 million. People will continue to give regardless of the passage of LB 28 so they must also prove that it would generate an additional $2.5 million in contributions that would not have been made without LB 28.


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