State Chamber Visits Alliance
Shares Blueprint Nebraska Update
By SHAUN FRIEDRICHSEN
The State Chamber visited Alliance recently, sharing a legislative update, as well an overview of Blueprint Nebraska, with business owners and community leaders who attended the Perfect Blend Forum, hosted by the Alliance Chamber of Commerce and Box Butte Development Corporation.
Bryan Slone, State Chamber President, led the forum, discussing how, by advocating for policies in legislature, and following the plan in Blueprint Nebraska, rural economies can grow.
Blueprint Nebraska has four main themes: retaining and attracting people to Nebraska, grow rural communities and metropolitan areas, make government more effective and efficient, and focus on growing certain sectors.
Alliance City Manager Jeff Sprock explained that the City of Alliance already shares many of the same goals as Blueprint Nebraska. He sees Alliance as a rural city that is set up for success, though he believes that it also faces some challenges.
“One of the big things that is challenging not only Alliance, but all of rural Nebraska, is a point brought up in the discussion about rural Nebraska losing 90,000 people in the last 10 years,” said Sprock. “I think it’s important for the City of Alliance to understand what it has to offer. Western Nebraska and Alliance have a lot to offer. The quality of life in our community is excellent. From the commute, to our schools and the parks, to our people, it all provides an excellent place for young professionals to land. The City of Alliance needs to figure out a way to market itself to those people to get the next generation of entrepreneurs who want to come to our community and develop their businesses here so that we can fight back against that decline we’ve seen in the past decade.”
Sprock said the Chamber of Commerce is already focusing on many of the challenges and initiatives that were presented at the forum.
“They are trying figure out a successful pathway to revitalize and bring back that lost population,” Sprock said. “One of the things that I think is excellent here is the City of Alliance is using its LB840 economic development money, as part of the sales tax that the city collects, to bring in like the hotel, or invest in local ag producers in the area. We’re making sure that we are providing economic assistance to those people who are trying to expand and develop their business in our community.”
One of the major projects the City of Alliance has focused on in recent years, Sprock explained, is revitalizing its downtown area. He believes the city can build on that momentum to showcase all that Alliance has to offer.
Chelsie Herian, BBDC Executive Director, said she was glad to hear an update on the Blueprint Nebraska initiative.
“I look forward to the forums where we can hear updates on where we stand, and I appreciate that it is a long-term initiative and goal,” said Herian. “We do need to grow all of Nebraska, not just the major metropolitan areas that are growing.”
Herian said she appreciates the community support for the Perfect Blend Forums. She noted the next forum is set for September at Village Pizza in Hemingford.
Alliance Chamber of Commerce Director Susan Unzicker said it is important to look at the economic impact of decisions and how to continue to support growth.
“I think there are some things in Blueprint Nebraska that we can take and implement in some way here in Alliance to help the economic growth here in town,” said Unzicker.
Sprock said he appreciates the Perfect Blend forums hosted by the Chamber and BBDC as they provide an opportunity for the community to come together to discuss issues and find solutions for problems they may face.