Promote Stronger Economies Together (SET)

The Stronger Economies Together Initiative was launched in 2009 by the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA/RD) in collaboration with the nation’s Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDC) and their land-grant university partners. The purpose of Stronger Economies Together (SET) is to strengthen the capacity of communities in rural America to work together in developing and implementing an economic development blueprint that strategically builds on the current and emerging economic strengths of their region. Important elements of the SET program builds collaboration between communities in a region and provides economic analyses that is tailored to help capture the region’s current or emerging clusters and comparative economic advantages. The program is supported by technical assistance provided by land-grant university extension systems to the regions over a period of several months. The Southeast Nebraska Partners for Progress partnership (P4P) embraced the SET Program in 2015 when the team wanted to create a formalized roadmap to success that incorporated all of the area’s unique strengths. The region, consisting of Johnson, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee and Richardson counties, is rich with resources and people that are dedicated to advancing strategic initiatives.

Our application to participate in the SET program was granted in July of 2015 and the Executive Committee began to recruit members for this endeavor that would shape the region for years to come. On August 29, a dynamic group of people came together to participate in a road tour that made stops in each of the five counties within the region. The “road crew” gained valuable insights from the tour that would lay the groundwork for future planning sessions. Over the next several months an average of 40 leaders participated in five sessions to study regional demographics and economic data, share ideas and expertise, and develop a plan that leaders will utilize to grow this rural area.

The SET sessions gave the region the opportunity to create a plan that engaged a wide variety of people with one goal—to create a thriving region by working together to implement the ideas contained within the plan.

Regional Economic Goals

Broad economic goals were developed from regional economic data analyses, asset identification and citizenry input. Each goal identifies key strategies, responsible parties charged with moving the goal forward as well as the timeline and status of each action item spanning a five-year period.

Manufacturing/Industry

Create a diverse industrial, manufacturing hub in the 5- county region, utilizing a diversified workforce, to regionally sustain and grow existing and new businesses.

Manufacturing/Industry Coordinating Team

Jason Esser, Omaha Public Power District
Jared Gerdes, Ariens Company
Gary Jorn, City of Falls City
Mike Nagel, Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Program

Cultural Tourism

Through collaborations, create rich destination experiences that attract visitors and contribute to the quality of life for local citizens.

Cultural Tourism Coordinating Team

Jessica Jones, Johnson County Extension
John Lauber, Brownville Community Foundation
Stephanie Fisher, Auburn Development Council
Doug Friedli, Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark

Center Workforce Education

Through education and training, create a workforce pipeline to enhanced employee recruitment, retention and engagement.

Workforce Education Coordinating Team

Kim Beger, Auburn Development Council
Marguerite Himmelberg, Southeast Community College
Stephanie Fisher, Auburn Development Council
Dan Mauk, Nebraska City Area Economic Development

Entrepreneurship

Develop an entrepreneurial culture for business creation and retention that sustains and grows our existing industries and businesses.

Entrepreneurship Coordinating Team

Tim Borchers, Peru State College
Lisa Beethe, City of Tecumseh
Nicole Mason, Nemaha County Deputy Attorney
Dan Mauk, Nebraska City Area Economic Development

If you would like to be involved with SET or would like to see the full plan please reach out to Kim Beger.