We often think of the stock market or buying a home when talking about the importance of making a good investment. Yet, we don’t often consider the investments we make every day to make the communities we have in Omaha and the state of Nebraska vibrant and strong.
As chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Nebraska’s director of economic development, we have had the pleasure to help develop our state’s workforce. We have also had the honor to each serve more than 20 years as business and financial analysts, which is why we recognize that investments must be done strategically to position oneself to achieve important future goals. This is not just the case for individuals, but our communities because no matter the size, location, or makeup, a community is stronger when it invests in its future.
Right now, more than 135,000 Nebraska students and their families are making that investment in themselves to achieve a brighter future. And data bears that out; the National Center for Education Statistics recently released a report showing annual earnings for a student with solely a high school diploma at approximately $36,000. That number jumps to approximately $59,000 with a bachelor’s degree — a difference of nearly $1 million in earnings over a person’s career. This investment is not just for personal gain; it’s also an investment to raise the overall quality of life for their families and communities. It is that return on investment, while not often discussed, that has truly incalculable ripple effects.
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Our institutions of higher education don’t just rely on students to make that investment in themselves. It is through support of our state, our city, and community that public institutions can make a transformational impact for Nebraska citizens. This includes state investments in Nebraska Career Scholarships, which were proposed by Gov. Ricketts and approved by the legislature in 2019. These scholarships will have invested in over 2,100 students by 2023 and equip Nebraska’s young adults to take great jobs in high-demand fields such …….