Nebraska is well-represented in the most recent, sixth annual SmartAsset study on the “best cities for young professionals.” In this study, released by the financial resources and analytics hub in July, Omaha and Lincoln both made the top 10 cities for this coveted demographic. Sandwiched between Seattle and St. Paul, Omaha ranked No. 4 on […]Nebraska is well-represented in the most recent, sixth annual SmartAsset study on the “best cities for young professionals.” In this study, released by the financial resources and analytics hub in July, Omaha and Lincoln both made the top 10 cities for this coveted demographic. Sandwiched between Seattle and St. Paul, Omaha ranked No. 4 on the list. At 10, Lincoln was on the heels of Cincinnati and Kansas City, Missouri. Notably, the only metro areas in the state with more than 100,000 people “bested” those “peer,” “competitor” and “aspirational” communities, which were previously identified by the Greater Omaha Chamber and its regional partnership. The only market to make the list, “competitor” Kansas City, was ranked No. 9. Omaha, specifically, was isolated for its 25th-lowest average rental rates, 14th-lowest unemployment, and 14th-lowest percentage of median earnings (FTEs) going toward housing. These same attributes were highlighted for Lincoln, which boasted the fifth-lowest unemployment rate of the 144 communities analyzed and with available data, and the 22nd-lowest affordability (rental rates compared to median FTE earnings). Business, community and industry leaders offered their takes on the bright spots and the lingering clouds that draw and, conversely, drain top talent from the Husker state and its neighboring communities across the river. “First and foremost, Omaha is a unique city,” asserted Veta T. Jeffery, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber. “Initiatives and partnerships that flourish here would struggle to find momentum elsewhere … you can find unwavering support from a thriving community of like-minded movers and shakers. “You can connect with a seasoned mentor, and learn from their years of experience. You can find counsel with peers in other industries or similar organizations. And you can find opportunity here to serve others and stretch yourself outside your comfort zone.” The bottom line, for Jeffery, who brought with her considerable experience and perspective in diversity, community and economic development throughout St. Louis County in Missouri, is the local YP community is “dedicated to helping others reach their full potential.” “As amazing as our community is, there’s still room for growth,” she acknowledged. “Programs like the annual YP Summit, YP Day at the Capitol, and our mission-driven YP Council are bold examples of this; however, the time has come for us as a community to stop referring to YPs as ‘our future’ and recognize them as ‘our now.’ YPs possess the ideas that will lead us into tomorrow and the energy to make that progressive new world come to fruition. But our recent rankings notwithstanding, we still have work to do.” She spoke to a need for a “renewed focus on developing YPs” that transcend networking opportunities. “We need their ambitious voices on boards,” Jeffery said. “We need them on planning committees and think tanks. We need YPs running for political office. We need YPs now, not tomorrow.” She indicated the focus must be on ensuring that YPs feel their “voices matter.” “Our next step is increased opportunities for growth, as well as expanding opportunities for impact and influence,” Jeffery stated.
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