Partnership Aimed At Helping Economies of Nebraska, Iowa

They were once competitors but are now partners.

Iowa and Nebraska have long worked to expand business development on their own, but now the two states are working together to make the region more economically viable.

The formation of this partnership should make the Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa region more attractive on the international landscape.

The Missouri River is a clear line that separates Nebraska and Iowa but for years there was also an invisible line that kept the two states apart.

But according to Sharon White of Advance Southwest Iowa, that's changing.

“We see the border not as a river but as a seam that binds the two communities,” she said.

That seam was strengthened by the governors of Nebraska and Iowa signing the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership binding the economies of southeastern Nebraska and southwest Iowa.

The thought is that the areas of either side of the river are stronger economically as one than as adversaries.

But just what does this mean?

In Carson, Iowa about half an hour east of the river, it means change from a farm-based economy to acceptance of the town's role.

Joe Riddle doesn't see immediate changes happening in Carson, but said long term, the town of 812 will benefit.

“As the region brings more business and commerce in, they're going to need places to live,” he said. “And most of us in Pottawattamie County realize that we're bedroom communities, so as the region goes...we go.”

Half an hour west of the river, a different dynamic faces Fremont, Nebraska.

Relatively self sufficient with business over the years, there have been economic shifts preventing the community from reaching it's full potential.

Cecelia Harry says it's important for Fremont to prosper but maintain it's identity.

“To leverage the assets of Fremont with the assets of the whole region with that 'we can accomplish more together' idea,” she said. “That being a part of the regional team will make Fremont a stronger player and a stronger community on it's own.”

Breaking the borders that once separated us while strengthening the region's economy.

The Iowa West Foundation chipped in $2.5 million to help fund the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership.

A long term goal of the partnership is to make the region more attractive to international businesses as well.

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