Jobs, Housing, Population Growth Emerge as Priorities in MEDC Survey

AREA News, News - 02.16.16

MCCOOK – Respondents to a recent McCook area survey said that attracting new residents and jobs and creating affordable housing options are important to a vibrant future for southwest Nebraska.

The survey, conducted by the McCook Economic Development Corporation, generated 173 responses and continued the conversation about needs and opportunities that are important to McCook and Red Willow County residents.

MEDC Board Member Dale Dueland said the survey provided good direction for the MEDC board and staff, and he was pleased with the time respondents took to give detailed comments.

“It will provide continued guidance on what our work and funding priorities should be,” Dueland said.

Survey respondents said the top three assets for McCook are its sense of community, access to quality health care and education. Providing more job opportunities and housing options emerged as the top two greatest challenges facing the community.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents said improving city infrastructure for housing and business was a priority, and 87 percent ranked housing development as important or very important. Single family housing that is attainable for working class individuals and families emerged as the highest housing need with 92 percent of respondents listing it as a priority.

“We desperately need to restore our stock of affordable building lots, developers, and competitive and quality contractors to serve the need of that middle age/income demographic,” Dueland said. “Also more recreation, family entertainment, and restaurant options are needed. McCook probably has the best and most options of any community around, but the responses indicate they are wanting more.  I think this reflects the amount of leisure time people have and value in today’s culture.”

MEDC’s efforts to create jobs, provide housing options and attract new residents to the area can be boosted if the local-option LB840 sales tax funding is approved in a May election.

“Many of the popular answers and comments about what we need will require public assistance in many different forms,” Dueland said. “Private investment does not go to communities that are withering on the vine. Without LB840, I don’t see private business providing investment and support to a community that is not willing to step up and help themselves with public infrastructure. LB840 will help us have a solid plan to compete with many other Nebraska communities that recognize the advantages of these strategies.”

Survey respondents ranked the following economic strategies as important, all of which require funding:

  • 93 percent said that attracting new residents and workers was very important or important.
  • 93 percent said it was very important or important to provide financial incentives to new businesses to create jobs.
  • 85 percent said it was very important or important to provide financial incentives to existing businesses to create jobs.
  • 84 percent ranked business loans for expansion or job creation as a priority.
  • 84 percent said improving community amenities, such as the swimming pool, is a high priority.

Despite the list of opportunities for improvement, 85 percent of respondents would recommend McCook as a place to live and 76 percent would recommend McCook as a place to locate and manage a business.

MEDC Executive Director Rex Nelson said that some of the comments generated in the survey would not fall under MEDC’s scope of work but that he would share those comments with other community organizations or entities that could take action in those areas.    (more)

For more information about the survey, please visit the MEDC web site at www.mccook.ne.org or call the MEDC at (308) 345-1200. The mission of the MEDC is to facilitate the formation, retention, attraction and expansion of businesses in McCook and the surrounding area.