Luring ex-Nebraskans home
Two Web sites add to toolbox for convincing
former residents to give state another look.
Many good ideas are arising to persuade former
residents that Nebraska is worth returning to.
Previous editorials here have highlighted small-town
"homestead acts" that offer free home sites and
a Norfolk-based effort to re-sell and even presell its region.
Now the Associated Press has highlighted two
recent additions that make use of the brain-drainequalizing
power of the Internet. One of them, MoveBacktoNebraska.com,
seeks to match departed Nebraska professionals and entrepreneurs
with jobs that are open and businesses that are for sale.
Site founder Mitch Arnold of Omaha says he was
lured from his native Loup City by the faster pace of the
East Coast. After several years on Capitol Hill and in North
Carolina, though, he was tired of it.
"I found the same sentiment in nearly every
former Nebraskan I encountered while living out of the state,"
Arnold wrote on his Web site. "Their lives and priorities
had changed since they left, and now Nebraska life looked
pretty good to them. Unfortunately, it's often more difficult
to return to a state than it is to leave a state," because
families have to be uprooted.
A similar Web site, Business Beyond the Farm
(type as one word and add ".com" to access the site),
offers similar services focused more specifically on rural
Founders Betty Sayers and Nancy Herhahn wrote
on their site that "we were told by our parents and teachers
that if we wanted to 'make something of ourselves,' we had
to leave rural Nebraska."
Herhahn wound up in San Diego and Sayers in
Minnesota, but both moved to southwest Nebraska in recent
years. Their site offers features on "liveable small
towns," lists of "things to do in rural Nebraska"
and testimonies from other natives who have come home.
"If you miss the safe, quiet streets, the
wide-open sky, the sense of knowing - and caring about - your
neighbors, we urge you to register and be a part of our community,"
the two women wrote. "And perhaps after you join us in
spirit, you'll join us in fact."
Omaha and Lincoln are not bereft of such qualities,
of course (perhaps in part because so many of their residents
are from small Nebraska towns, too). But the more that ex-Nebraskans
can be reminded of "The Good Life" they left behind,
the more they just might realize that the greenest pastures
are back from whence they came.