What Nebraska and Iowa Should Do
And Omaha Would Benefit
Right now, Omaha City Council is preparing to approve a tax-incremental finance strategy to fund a trolley car. This is just another tax exemption and it will hurt the public schools the most.
The Mutual of Omaha project is plagued by questions: What is the merit in moving their workforce 25 blocks east? What happens to the existing campus? What real value is a trolley car? Why do they get tax incremental financing for a free train, while everyone else gets a tax hike? Why does Mutual of Omaha have easy access to taxing authorities to basically bribe and extort Omaha to build a kiddie choo-choo train while many of us are taxed out of money to improve our homes?
The Omaha developers community are arrogant about what economic development is. They point out the Aksarben development as an example of how "great" their projects are. The Summer Arts fair is there this weekend! Take a look at this fancy PDF!
So I checked out the new Kinkaider Brewery taproom in the Village. Hey, check out their virtual tour at https://www.kinkaider.com/locations/omaha ! Convincing, eh? Let us be honest. Asksarben is competing with a dirt lot: very literally, a dirt lot. See the so-called Crossroad development below:
Building a new development merely takes away from other parts of the City, especially in a digital economy. The Mutual of Omaha project, with a skyscraper and trolley car, are ideas from pre-Covid economy. The Nebraska Examiner has noticed the economy has changed particularly in Nebraska (https://nebraskaexaminer.com/briefs/nebraska-named-among-top-states-to-land-a-remote-job/)
What Omaha needs is a regional attraction, not a trolley car. Iowa and Nebraska, and perhaps Missouri, need to encourage river communities to have ports to the Missouri river to encourage barges and river boats cruises. There are some issues with the Missouri River between floods and droughts but working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a substantial amount of seasonal traffic could be fostered to generate the economy for the region (https://muleskinnernews.com/26384/news/barge-traffic-makes-a-resurgence-on-the-missouri-river/)
River cruises are common throughout the United States. Iowa has some experience with this with the Mississippi but has not done anything on the Missouri side. Nebraska barely notices Missouri.
From Sioux City, Iowa to Kansas City, Missouri, there are plenty of riverside communities such as Blair, Decatur, Rulo, Plattsmouth, Fort Calhoun, Bellevue, Nebraska City, Brownville and more. Each of these places have their own attractions and activities. The change would not come overnight. Over time, more communities would see the advantages the Missouri River offered and more attractions would be built. By connecting these communities, the economy would expand and Omaha would benefit. Nebraska and Iowa Governments should work towards improving Missouri, but such ideas just sit and go nowhere.