Editorial: 09.05.2023

Omaha's Economic Development Grows From the Ground Up

For over two decades, Omaha has been the envy of many American cities. Despite nationwide economic turbulence, Omaha's population has grown 13% since 2000. During that time, the city has supported the continued growth of Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies while attracting new industries to the region.

Omaha's growth rate and strategic urban development have positioned the community for long-term prosperity, making it a key region for experienced commercial and civil construction experts.  

Strong Foundations: Omaha's Growing Population Base

Omaha was not always seen as such an attractive destination. For over a century, Omaha and the entire state of Nebraska lagged behind the national annual growth rate. To give you an idea, for the  20 years from 1971 to 1991, the city's population increased by less than a single percentage point. But that’s old news. Four of the eight counties that make up the Omaha metropolitan area saw double-digit growth between 2010 and 2020, and the region is now expected to reach 1 million residents by 2024.

Why Are People Moving to Omaha?

The reasons are that modern Omaha provides residents with tremendous occupational opportunities and other perks. For example …

Low cost of living – Omaha's cost of living is 8% lower than the national average. In 2016, Omaha was named one of the most affordable places to live in the US.

Family-friendly – Omaha was named the seventh-best city for families by Forbes thanks to a low crime rate, exceptional schools, and affordable housing.

Low unemployment – Businesses large and small have relocated or expanded operations in the Omaha metro area to access the city's workforce of educated and hard-working residents. 38% of Omaha residents have a bachelor's or graduate degree, and that ratio is expected to increase as more millennials bring their families to the area.

Omaha's Population Growth During the Pandemic

The historic rise of remote work contributed to Omaha's COVID-19-era population boom. Between 2020 and 2023, the city's population increased by over 4%, bringing in more than 30,000 new residents. Many of these newcomers were young families with professional careers and high incomes. The increased population base helped insulate the area from the worst of the 2020 recession caused by the pandemic, though the economy may not reach 2019 employment levels until late 2023.

Related: Bobby Humphrey Is Making His Mark in Omaha

Omaha's Economic Expansion and New Construction

The Greater Omaha region's economic boom is centered on two key industries.

1.     Finance and Insurance

Omaha's finance and insurance sector grew 34.7% in just five years compared to 3.4% national growth. In addition to the eponymous Mutual of Omaha, the city is home to First National Bank, TD Ameritrade, Physicians Mutual Insurance Co., Bank of the West, and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska, all of which employ more than 1,000 people.

Omaha is also the long-time home of Berkshire Hathaway, the 7th-largest company in the US and an employer of more than 8,200 Omahans.

2.     Healthcare

Omaha's healthcare sector grew 5.8% in the past five years, more than double the national average. Three healthcare organizations employ more than 5,000 residents in Omaha:

  • Nebraska Medicine
  • CHI
  • Methodist Health System

Other core industries include manufacturing, agribusiness, and information technology.

Commercial Construction Projects in the Heart of the City

The keystone of Omaha's urban development is its downtown. Anchored by the 44-story Mutual of Omaha Tower, the city is invested in a downtown streetcar system to provide public transportation for the growing population.

Other noteworthy projects include:

  •  The $600 million renovation and expansion of the Omaha Airport.
  • The $325 million investment in developing The RiverFront. The 72-acre project will link three parks with a riverside walkway and include a Performance Pavilion and a STEM interactive family museum.
  • The new $750 million Google data center, the third such project in the region.

A Bright Future on the Missouri River

Omaha’s growth is no accident. The city’s development has been supported by a mix of public and private entities working to establish Omaha as the center of commerce on the Plains.

  • Comprised of eight regional counties, the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership is committed to growing Omaha's economic base in several industries, including healthcare, finance and technology.
  • Omaha’s cost of doing business is 12% lower than the national average, balancing social services with low tax rates.
  • Omaha also operates a commercial real estate and development program to make land and property acquisitions easy for businesses.

Build Your Base in Omaha with Castle Contracting

As an industry leader in civil construction and site development, Castle welcomes businesses to this thriving city.

We've worked on dozens of projects in Omaha and offer clients a range of services designed to get your project off the ground. Contact our Omaha office today to learn more about what we do.


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