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State Chamber president sees potential in Wahoo

State Chamber president sees potential in Wahoo

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WAHOO – Wahoo has the potential to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic and come out stronger than ever before, according to the president of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce.

“I think Wahoo’s one of those communities that couldn’t be better placed,” said Bryan Sloane.

Sloane spoke to the Greater Wahoo Development Foundation via a Zoom call on Nov. 4. During his presentation, the state Chamber president said Nebraska is poised to emerge from the pandemic in a better economic position than most other states.

“Nebraska has been, it’s probably fair to say, much more proactive in positive ways in dealing with the virus than most,” Sloane said.

The success is attributed to the fact that the state emerged as an early leader in medical expertise with the virus, the state dealt with early meat packing plant outbreaks successfully and Nebraska’s hospital capacity has held steady, Sloane said.

Sloane said he believes the pandemic could actually become an opportunity for Nebraska’s small communities like Wahoo to grow and reverse the trend of young people migrating from small to large communities, something that hasn’t happened in about a decade, but is ready to happen again.

“I tend to think it is,” Sloane said.

The State Chamber is working to attract young adults to Nebraska by embracing the work-from-home effort that came out of the pandemic, Sloane said. The pandemic has forced the nation to rethink how they work, where they live and how they are connected.

“You can live anywhere,” he said.

People who were originally attracted to urban areas for their jobs now find they can live in any area, including small towns like Wahoo. Wahoo’s location near Lincoln and Omaha are a plus.

“Communities with the greatest potential are near urban areas but are not part of the urban areas,” Sloane said.

Wahoo also has attractions like good schools and abundant recreational facilities in the area. But Wahoo lacks enough housing and should consider revitalizing its downtown area to include housing, Sloane said.

“For Wahoo, it’s really around housing downtown and attracting jobs that attract 18 to 34 year olds,” he said.

Wahoo’s proximity to Lincoln and Omaha also gives the community the opportunity to create anchor businesses, which are needed to attract more broadband companies to rural areas like Saunders County, Sloane added.

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