The demographic reason to support the McCook Recreational Sales Tax Bond
As we prepare for the November election on the recreational bond issue, I encourage voters to support the project - if for no other reason than we need workers if our community wants to exist years from now.
McCook is making progress, with such examples as the grants to expand daycare access, expanding and improving the pickleball courts at Russell Park, and the Norris Alley project, just to name a few.
The community will be asked to further support local investments with the proposed recreational sales tax bond to move forward with the swimming pool and ball field projects planned for the November ballot. There is a lot of action locally to make our community a more attractive place to live, and supporting these projects and investments is in our community’s long-term economic best interest.
There is an old saying that “demography is destiny,” and here in Southwest Nebraska attracting and retaining people is a critical long-term issue. Red Willow County lost 3.1% of its population from the 2010 to 2020 census; declining from 11,069 to 10,725.
But the decline is actually even more dramatic. Our working-age adults (age 20-64) declined even faster at 7.8%, declining from 6,132 to 5,651. Simply put, there are fewer people to fill the jobs available.
We can all see and feel the effects of a smaller workforce, from reduced hours at our local businesses even as those businesses outbid each other to attract and retain an ever-shrinking workforce. Unfortunately, this workforce shortage is likely to get much worse over this decade. If trends continue, by 2030 Red Willow County can expect to have about 875 (15.4%) fewer working-age (20-64) residents compared to 2020, declining from 5,651 to about 4,780.
This will hinder many local organizations’ ability to continue offering services, let alone experience any real economic growth. We will see even more significant wage pressure as businesses compete fiercely for the labor needed to meet demand and even to stay open.
Attracting people to our community is no easy task. Jobs and economic opportunities are available nationwide. Economic development is no longer operating in a world where creating jobs will get people to move there or keep current residents from considering a move; it is now about creating a community that people want to live in. Workers today can find a job just about anywhere, so we need strong reasons why our community is an excellent choice for them and their families to live in.
And the recreational bond up for a vote in November is just one example where we can begin to create a community where people - young and old, working or retired - want to live, work and play. Please vote Yes for McCook’s recreational bond issue.