Closing the Gap.

We’re growing. But, growth without a clear plan could have a range of undesirable consequences. By 2050, the population is expected to increase by several hundred thousand people and if current land use trends continue, we’ll develop almost another Omaha worth of land area. That new development requires new utilities and services, increasing public costs dramatically. If we don’t change course, we are predicted to have a $1.3 billion revenue shortfall for local municipalities, likely requiring substantial property tax hikes to pay for all of it. Meanwhile, rural downtowns and urban neighborhood centers continue to decline, with shuttered shop windows and vacant lots. We’ll drive more and walk less, our carbon footprint will expand, and the opportunity gap for underserved communities will only grow wider as our educational, healthcare, and employment infrastructure becomes more spread out and less accessible.

Growth & Congestion

  • More traffic on the road: car-centric, sprawling development and large, single family lots and businesses with extensive surface parking make inefficient use of public services and encourage driving everywhere.
  • Not enough public transit: Omaha spends $36 per capita on transit, among the lowest in the nation. The national average is $78 per capita.
  • More cars on the road will translate to increase in emissions and larger carbon footprint for the region.

Expensive Infrastructure

  • Development on large, “greenfield” sites that have no existing infrastructure requires building new sewers, utilities, roads, fire departments, and more.
  • Lower density land use costs more for public services (sewer, utilities, roads).
  • By 2050, large, single family lots are projected to be 81% of available housing, while demographic shifts suggest they should only be 28%.

Photo Credit: Ben Semsich/Maha Music Festival

Opportunity Gap

  • Households that earn between $20K and $50K in yearly income spend more on transportation than they do on housing.
  • Those who can’t drive face 60 to 90 minute wait times on many metro routes.
  • Poor mobility around the city limits options for education and employment.

To secure a prosperous future, the metro region needs a growth model that is driven by equity – just and fair inclusion into a society in which everyone has access to participate and prosper. Concerted investments and policies for, and developed from within, communities of color will also be essential to ensure the region’s fastest-growing populations are ready to lead it into the next economy. H2050 Vision

Brain Drain

Competition between metro areas to attract and retain a talented workforce and new jobs will only increase in the years to come. Moreover, the anticipated future growth will place unprecedented stress on the ability to provide infrastructure and services and maintain a high quality of life for our families.

As we grow, the region should become a national magnet for a highly skilled workforce, ensuring opportunity right here for young workers.