With the help of Redevelopment Resources (Madison, WI), Greater Fremont Development Council used a data-intense approach to identify the following target industries. We engage in dialog with our existing employers in these industries to sharpen our knowledge of the industries’ national and global market environments. This knowledge will drive conversations with local officials to effectively develop and enhance infrastructure and competencies aimed at targeted industry attraction, retention, and expansion of our target industries.
- Animal Food Manufacturing
- Wood, Plastic & Metal Manufacturing
- Seeds & Oils Refining and Blending
The Greater Fremont Development Council invested in a target industry analysis in 2015. This is a robust, data-intense exercise that helps a community determine how to best use limited resources to attract new businesses and help existing businesses grow. The outcome and recommendations of the analysis are now available to stakeholders and the public. What did the analysis help us understand about our community, and what are we going to do with the information?
We benefit from participating in two regional economies. Dodge County participates in the Greater Omaha regional economy and is also the epicenter of a rural regional economy that consists of Burt, Butler, Cass, Colfax, Cuming, Dodge, Saunders, and Washington Counties. The community is uniquely positioned to experience the benefits of a major metropolitan area and be the economic driver for a rural economy.
Local worker and employment trends are tied to state trends. Dodge County experiences an overall net loss in commuter population as a result of regional worker flows, but is also a labor magnet for surrounding rural counties, resulting in a net gain of workers. This is not uncommon for an area sized and positioned like Dodge County is, and understanding these worker flows will help us explain to prospective employers where the labor force will come from.
Additionally, the State of Nebraska as a whole has a strong capacity to retain “home grown” college graduates (college graduates born in their current state of residence). On the flip side, Nebraska has a negative net migration rate of people ages 18-29 with a bachelor’s degree or higher. This means we are losing our college graduates to other markets/states faster than ones from other areas are coming in. It will be more difficult for Greater Fremont to address our local needs for retaining young people and college graduates because state trends greatly influence local trends, but this is certainly an area the community needs to think about and work together to address.
We are a manufacturing community. 24% of Dodge County’s gross regional product (GRP) and 19% of our employment are attributed to manufacturing firms (compared to 9% of Greater Omaha’s GRP and 25% of the rural adjacent economy’s GRP). This is not a revelation, but the data helps us see that manufacturing opportunities are likely to be our best opportunities for growth moving forward. It is important to remember that within the manufacturing sector, a wide variety of jobs exist with various skill sets, including opportunities for supervision and management, entrepreneurship, and research and development.
We will support our existing manufacturers and tell the story of our competitive strengths in specific manufacturing sectors. The target industry analysis developed recommendations based on a number of factors including employment trends and needs, where industries are in their business life cycle (emerging or growing versus maturing and declining), export activity, and supply chain gaps. This combination of data and analysis revealed that the best opportunities for growth for Greater Fremont exist in the industries of Wood, Plastics, and Metals Manufacturing and Agricultural Output Manufacturing. There are even more specific sub-sectors within these broader industry categories, such as Animal Food Manufacturing and Fats and Oils Refining and Blending, that Greater Fremont Development Council will explore. The goal is to better understand the strengths of the region from the perspective of our existing employers in these industries and to identify areas of need to fortify and grow our existing businesses. Attraction efforts will focus on recruiting companies that address the needs or fill the supply chain of our existing businesses. This approach will allow the community’s economic base to grow through both attraction and expansion efforts, and outreach and programming can be tailored to these targeted industries. By developing a targeted focus that supports existing industries, GFDC can maximize our resources and provide the community its best opportunities for growing the local economy.