Results of pandemic-related research study among the topics of discussion.

April 28, 2022 (LINCOLN, NEB.) – The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), in partnership with the University of Nebraska Omaha Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) and other sponsors, will host a public meeting on May 3, 2022, from 6:00-7:30 PM at South Omaha’s Kroc Center at 2825 Y St., to discuss the economic development of South Omaha.

During the event, DED will talk about its ongoing plans to promote economic development and support small business growth in South Omaha. Also featured in the discussion will be the results of a recent survey by OLLAS, “Vulnerable, Yet Resilient: The Impact of COVID-19 on Latino-Owned Businesses in South Omaha.” The study provides a clearer understanding of how the pandemic has affected the Latino/Latin American business community.

“We are incredibly excited to gather with citizens and community leaders in South Omaha to discuss opportunities for the road ahead, challenges we can solve together, and to lay a foundation for new partnerships to promote economic growth,” said DED Director Anthony L. Goins.   

Tuesday’s event is part of a larger, statewide initiative launched by DED last year to better understand and address the economic needs and challenges of potentially vulnerable or underrepresented groups in North and South Omaha and Greater Nebraska.

As part of its efforts in South Omaha, DED partnered with numerous stakeholder organizations in 2021 to conduct focus sessions with local Latino business owners and entrepreneurs, with the goal of understanding pandemic-related impacts and the unique economic climate of South Omaha.

In support of this initiative, Midwest Business and Projects LLC — a local firm that provides education, assistance and outreach to South Omaha entrepreneurs — conducted over 100 one-on -one business retention and expansion (BRE) interviews in 2021 on DED’s behalf. DED Economic Development Field Staff routinely conduct BRE interviews across the state of Nebraska to gain insight into local and regional economic issues, and subsequently influence economic decision-making. Midwest Businesses and Projects will play an ongoing role in DED’s objectives in South Omaha moving forward. 

“This is an incredible opportunity for the State of Nebraska and the people of South Omaha to come together to create new opportunities for Nebraska’s Latino business community,” said Midwest Businesses and Projects CEO Marta Sonia Londono Mejia. “We are excited to be working with DED, OLLAS and everyone involved in helping us to provide additional resources for business owners to start, grow and navigate challenges presented by the pandemic not only in Omaha, but across the state.”     

OLLAS, meanwhile, designed and administered a survey to South Omaha small businesses to determine how they have been impacted by COVID-19. The results were summarized in a full report that will be discussed during the meeting.

“Our students, staff and faculty at OLLAS are proud and honored to have had the privilege of learning from members of Omaha’s Latino business community about the struggles they faced during the pandemic and the resilience they displayed during unprecedented circumstances,” said OLLAS Director Dr. Cristian Doña-Reveco. “We look forward to seeing the results of our study implemented in future research and decision making.”  

Other sponsors of the May 3 event who have been supporting DED’s efforts in South Omaha include the Nebraska Business Development Center, the Greater Omaha Chamber, Nebraska Enterprise Fund, Center for Rural Affairs, Catholic Charities of Omaha and Omaha Community Foundation.     

The May 3 event will be held from 6:00-7:30 p.m. CDT at 2825 Y St., Omaha, NE 68107. All are welcome to attend.