Lt. Gov. Foley Tours Downtown Alliance
By SHAUN FRIEDRICHSEN
Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley visited Alliance last Tuesday afternoon, visiting with officials about the local economy and touring three local businesses: Shelmadine Print Shop, Roller Hardware and Steph’s Studio.
In an interview with the Alliance Times-Herald, Foley recognized some of the challenges the economy is facing with the departure of Kmart and Shopko, but believes the community has developed a strong plan to promote Alliance.
He noted that he took time to visit Oshkosh and Ogallala earlier that morning as part of a trek through the Panhandle to get more perspective on what rural communities are doing to grow.
“It’s important to get out of Lincoln and travel through Nebraska, God’s country as it is called, and meet people to hear their concerns, hear about the Shopko closing, hear about what’s the strategy. They’ve got a good strategy here,” Foley said.
Foley noted the state as a whole has faced many challenges this year, with natural disasters striking both ends of the state.
“Over 80 of our 93 counties, and over 100 cities issued emergency declarations within a three-day period because of the devastation of those storms. But, we’re a strong people, and we’ve been through tough times before, and we’re going to bounce back stronger and better than ever,” said Foley.
Foley said when the Legislature returns, they will work to solve the issue of property taxes in Nebraska and to promote the workforce in Nebraska.
“Property taxes and the workforce are the two big issues in our state,” Foley said. “Many businesses that I talk to are looking for workers. The unemployment rate has never been lower in the history of our state. We’re way below the national level. Everybody’s looking for workers, and you can’t grow the state without a good workforce. People in Nebraska have a fabulous work ethic, but there’s just not enough of us in the workforce market right now. It’s a big challenge for us.”
Foley believes that the quality of life will appeal to young families to encourage them to move to rural areas. He explained that having opportunities in place will help rural communities to flourish.
“The quality of life here is so high compared to those urban centers,” said Foley. “People, when they start to think about where they want to raise their family, communities like Alliance suddenly have a great appeal. People will move out here and enjoy a great quality of life.
“It’s a great experience to come out and talk to folks, and see it first hand, and to strategize with community leaders on what we can do to grow Nebraska; not just Lincoln and Omaha, but all across the state, border to border,” said Foley.