Grow Grand Island focuses on future community growth

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Grow Grand Island logo(Grow Grand Island)
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 10:42 AM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - On Tuesday, members of the Grow Grand Island initiative gave an update on their plans for strengthening the local economy in the years to come.

Grow Grand Island chair Tonya Brown said the goal of the organization is to continue growth and the future well being of Grand Island.

Some of their main focus also includes quality of life for residents, skilled and sustainable workforce, progressive and welcoming community, desired community assets and collaborative effective partnering.

Brown said one of current focuses is the Look Local, Grow Local initiative, which is intended to get the community thinking about the local economy when residents make their spending decisions.

“It’s a three-year process. Over the three years there’s a variety of things we will do to try and change the thinking of our residents, using light pole flags, the Passport Program and a messaging campaigns to continually educate the community about why it’s important to spend locally,” said Brown.

Cindy Johnson with the Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce also spoke, mentioning the city is below development outlooks for future jobs compared to communities similar to Grand Island.

She said there is a need for high skilled, high wage jobs in the area, particularly when it comes to young people.

Grow Grand Island will introduce an internship program and hopes alongside businesses and with the help from area colleges and universities, they will be able to keep young professionals after their internships are through.

Johnson said, “Businesses in the community recognized that we needed more high paying jobs. Young professionals bring a lot to the community, so we are focusing on ways to increase the number of high paying jobs with well-educated and well-trained young people. We will be working with colleges and universities that want to invest in Grand Island. We will also be focusing on alumnus who haven’t finished their graduate and undergraduate degrees and work with them to finish.”

The new program for those looking to finish their degrees will be getting underway in the coming months, and they hope to have the internship program started with those students in 3-4 years.

Another area of focus Johnson mentioned was to grow on the entertainment sector in the community.

“We want to grow on entertainment and things that will bring those outside dollars into the community. Knowing the competition is intense we need to find our niche. We have wonderful livestock facilities at the Fonner Park grounds. We feel it’s an area that we can do more to facilitate events and shows and bring people to Grand Island,” said Johnson.

Dave Taylor with the Economic Development Corporation said bringing more entrepreneurs to the area was another focus for the organization.

“They grow the community and we want them to know they are welcome. We will be recruiting them to town in the years to come. Housing is always a topic with these people. We do housing studies every few years and address the housing needs. They are going to look at a lot of different areas,” said Taylor.

Mayor Steele said it is important for people to understand that Grow Grand Island is a home-grown effort to plan for the future, and that it’s important to direct the community’s efforts for success.

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