Nebraska economic development leaders open an office in South Omaha

By: - February 27, 2023 5:00 am

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development has opened a new South Omaha office on the Metropolitan Community College campus. (Courtesy of Department of Economic Development).

OMAHA — Nudged by South Omaha leaders and an avalanche of public dollars that appear to be headed to that area, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development has opened up a satellite office in South Omaha.

The state’s economic development director, Anthony Goins, said he had been considering adding a “strategic South Omaha presence” even before lawmakers last year passed Legislative Bill 1024, which earmarks about $335 million, largely for North and South Omaha.

La Plaza de la Raza along the South 24th Street corridor at N Streets is among areas recommended for ARPA funding. (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

But he said the anticipated financial infusion accelerated the move to open the DED satellite site in the Automotive Training Center on the Metropolitan Community College campus near 30th and Q Streets.

Bilingual staff

“The goals of the office are to promote economic inclusivity, create high-paying jobs, and support the overall growth of South Omaha,” Goins said. He described Metro as a key partner.

The staff person currently assigned to the office is Elizabeth Blanco, the DED said.

North Omaha has had a state economic development satellite office since April 2021.

Goins said in a statement that the South Omaha office will support development and work with businesses and community leaders to further identify needs. He noted that the state has other programs and funding sources designed to spur growth.

“South Omaha is home to one of the largest concentrations of small businesses in the State of Nebraska,” Goins said, adding that the staffer is bilingual in English and Spanish to “best serve the community.”

Armando Salgado of LingoDocs marketing company and co-founder of the Latino Economic Development Council had been at the forefront of a push for an office that connects more closely with the community. He said the new field office was “a great start” in trying to get more support not only from the state but from Douglas County and the City of Omaha to step up workforce and business development.

Public hearing ahead

Known also as the Economic Recovery Act, LB 1024 is largely funded by the federal ARPA legislation designed to boost Nebraska communities negatively impacted  by COVID-19. 

A state consultant’s report has issued a plan on how to distribute $225 million of the overall LB 1024 funding, recommending grants go to 35 recipients in South and North Omaha who submitted applications laying out respective plans to grow the local economy through building projects, job development and housing.

Yet to be scheduled is a public hearing before the Legislature’s Urban Affairs Committee on the recommendations. The full Legislature must then sign off on an allocation plan. Once approved, the funds would be distributed in late summer.


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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.