could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

                               Kearney’s Economic Base

First Boom – 1888-1892
    Many new industries – not solid financial bases
        Bust left closed businesses, empty buildings

    Population growth to 10,000
        Bust - half of population moved away

    Infrastructure sewer & water systems installed
        Bust - bond debt


Kearney began carefully building a stronger and broader economic base

1. Agriculture
    First & original economic base for Kearney
    Market for grain cattle from beginning
    Retail sales of farm equipment
    Blacksmith shops for manufacture and repair
    Harness makers

        Still shipping out grain, not cattle

        Still retail sales of farm equipment, bigger & more expensive
        Gateway Farm Expo & Cattlemen’s Classic – annual events

2. Education
    Normal School – 1903
        Kearney won fight to have it established here

    Reliable financial base being a state institution
    Renamed Kearney State Teachers College
    Renamed Kearney State College – expanded education beyond teacher training
    Made part of the state university system
        Renamed University of Nebraska at Kearney

        One of the major employers in Kearney

3. Health Care
    Some small hospitals in early years
    Good Samaritan Hospital constructed in 1926
        Additions which include specialized services for heart, cancer
    Now a second hospital opened – Kearney Regional

        Specialists came in last 45 years – some 120 doctors now

        Numerous nursing homes and assisted living facilities established
        One of the major employers in Kearney

4. Industry
    Kearney's First Boom - Many businesses established
        So many businesses closed at end of the Boom Period in 1892

        Left empty buildings – Paper company, cottonmill

    Kearney’s Second boom – Air Base built in 1942
        Boosts to the local economy
            1. Construction of base
            2. Civilians employed on base
            3. Housing & entertainment off-base

    End of Boom – Base closed in 1948

    Population – Even though military personnel left there had been permanent growth in Kearney
        Growth from 9,640 in 1940 (two years before base was built) to 12,115 in 1950 (two years after it closed),
            a 25% increase

        Growth has continued, not by 1-2000/year as from 1900-1940 but by 2-4000/year

    Business/industry - The industrial complex that left Kearney was the Air Base which reduced business in town
        Again “abandoned buildings” this time at the air base property with all its buildings & hangers

    What did Kearney do?
        1. The Kearney Airport was established
        2. Land was rented out for farming
        3. Hangers became part of the new industrial park
        4. City worked to bring in new industries
                a. Retained ownership of those buildings, even the first ones they built to the spec of an industry – 

                b. Made sure the new incoming business was sound financially

5. Travel & Tourism
    Recognition that we had attractions here – Sandhill cranes, central location for conventions
    Motels were built
    Passed lodging tax to be used to attract visitors and conventions to Kearney
    More motels & expansion of major ones to accommodate state-wide conventions

Some Lessons Learned
    Don’t rely on just one economy – when one is down, we have four others to hold us up
    More solid financial basis – good reputations for businesses coming in
    Build more slowly and carefully than during the first Boom

Did you notice a steep economic downturn in Kearney in 2008 when the nation had its last financial crisis?

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Revised: 02/04/2018