Groups try to bring back former Nebraskans
By CRYSTAL R. REID / The Associated Press
OMAHA Dont take the state for granted,
says a Nebraska expatriate turned resident again.
Sense of community, cost of living and a great
job opportunity enticed former Columbus native Dan Davidchik
back to his hometown, away from the higher cost of living
and stress of Denver, Colo.
People ask me Why move back?
Davidchik said. Because day in and day out, living in
Nebraska is a lot more pleasant than where I was living.
Even so, the state has been losing its youth
and its retirees, said Don Mihovk, vice president for communications
for the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Although Mihovk doesnt have figures, he
said the drain is certain.
We educate and provide a great education
for our citizens, but sometimes they look beyond the state,
Mihovk said. We just want to let them know that they
can come back.
Davidchik was one of those: He moved away after
high school, attended college at Iowa State and later moved
around with the military.
He was working in Denver as a manufacturing
consultant when his wife and father-in-law encouraged him
to attend a Nebraska job fair held in Denver.
He went and now the Columbus native is back
in his hometown with his young family, working as a project
coordinator at Central Community College.
That job fair was part of an effort by the Nebraska
Department of Economic Development to increase the states
population, said Richard Baier, director of the department.
And recruiting former Nebraskans seems to be
the way to go, Baier said.
We believe the best opportunities are
with people who have had connections to the state or the region,
The department is working with the states
colleges and universities, alumni associations and others
across the state to fit Nebraska jobs with those whove
left the state.
MoveBackToNebraska.com partnered with the department
to offer a comprehensive job hunting resource.
Mitch Arnold, president of Preferred Partners
LLC an Omaha-based sales and Web consulting firm, created
the site after his own experiences in trying to get back to
his home state.
The Loup City native lived in Washington, D.C.,
then North Carolina for about seven years. He felt rooted
there by his job, house and small family. But, he said, I
knew I wanted to come back, because that was home.
Finding a job and moving was difficult, he said,
but he made it.
His Web site has a function that lets Nebraska
employers search for job candidates from a database of about
100 former Nebraskans, Arnold said.
The new function was added about a month ago,
and no matches have been made yet. Arnolds goal is to
match at least one or two a month.
A similar effort in Norfolk has had some success:
The Norfolk Area Recruiters doubled its expected goal for
its first year, enticing six families back to the Norfolk
area in 2005.
The job opportunities are what brought
them back, said Kim Wilcox, director of the recruiting
group. We just helped out with finding leads, finding
a Realtor for housing, bankers and whatever else they needed.
The group contacts graduates from Norfolk and
other area high schools, Wilcox said. It was formed late in
2004 and sent out its first newsletter in 2005.
Business Beyond the Farm is another recruiter
of former Nebraskans, Baier said. It was established by two
former Nebraskans to help recruit people to the states
more rural areas.
The state has a lot to offer, Baier said. The
lower cost of living and family communities attracted both
Arnold and Davidchik.
When you get older, you realize
theres more to life than palm trees and mountains,