Omaha Ranked #1 in Kiplinger's Best Value Cities of 2011!

Posted by Husker Home Finder Team on Monday, August 1st, 2011 at 3:41pm.


Best Value Cities 2011:

1. Omaha, Neb.


A hot business climate, cool amenities and cheap-and-easy living earn Omaha our top spot.

By Bob Frick, Senior Editor


Omaha? Omaha natives are sick of the question mark. And given the work this vibrant prairie town has done revitalizing itself over the past ten years, its low cost of living and its remarkably low unemployment rate, we’re naming it our top Great Value City for 2011, without question.

Money has never been an issue. This city of less than a half-million people is home to five Fortune 500 companies and arguably more millionaires per capita than any other U.S. metro area, thanks in part to native son Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. What the city needed was to revamp its downtown and waterfront, and create economic room for a fresh generation of entrepreneurs, who had been fleeing Omaha like it was Egypt during the exodus. And so the city set to work, rallying the big money to reclaim moribund blocks sucked of life by migration to the suburbs. New businesses such as Paypal moved to the area to take advantage of vast, cheap broadband access and the vaunted midwestern work ethic.

"Self-serving" cliques of business interests are yielding to more cooperative networks that nurture innovation and spur business creation, says Mark Hasebroock, a venture capitalist and Omaha native. Such networks play a key role in many places renowned for their business vitality and job-creation prowess, such as Austin, Tex., and Silicon Valley, Cal. Many organizations have signed on to help develop business networks, from the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership to others at the grass-roots level.

Silicon Prairie News is one of the key players. It started as a blog and has evolved into an online news source for entrepreneurs, not just in Omaha but also in Des Moines, Iowa, and Kansas City, Mo., and so is helping to develop a powerful regional network.

Omaha, of course, has its problems. Chief among them is the area known as North Omaha, which once was dependent on a thriving meat-packing industry. When the plants moved out 50 years ago the community was left with high unemployment -- and now with a high crime rate. City leaders, including mayor Jim Suttle, promise that bringing businesses to North Omaha has now, finally, become a priority for the city.

Still, Omaha as a whole has impressive economic momentum. The question “Omaha?” has yielded to another question: “Why not here?” Hasebroock says. A generation of young Omaha professionals who have chosen to stay or return to take advantage of new opportunities agree.



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