Sunday, June 20, 2010

Omaha Giddy Over Economic Development From Nebraska's Shift to Big 10 Conference

Simply irrational. Some Omaha boosters think the University of Nebraska's shift from the Big 12 to Big 10 will somehow make the town a hot place for young grads. I'm not sure if this is more disturbing than it is wrong.

Omaha has done far better than many places the last few years, and none of it has had anything to do with attracting a lot of young "knowledge workers". While it is not known for being a hotspot for recent grads, its current metro unemployment rate of 5.5% is one of the lowest in the country, and is about half of what Portland's is. This nonsense that economic development is about being "cool" or "creative" just won't stop, and there's no data out there that shows a strong presence of recent grads helps or hurts a regional economy. Moreover, Omaha's largest employer is Offutt Air Force base, which brings far more young people to town than changing football conferences ever will.

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