Wayne State College

Northeast Nebraska Growing Together

Addressing our local workforce crisis

Currently, our region retains 35% fewer four-year degree holders than the rest of the state. Retention of our most precious asset - our children and future workforce - is dwindling. Without change, industries beyond agriculture and manufacturing in Northeast Nebraska risk fading away within our lifetime. The problem is serious, but not too big if we come together and take action. That’s why the Aksarben Foundation, in conjunction with local industry leaders, developed the Northeast Nebraska Growing Together initiative. Together, we can grow Northeast Nebraska.

The Growing Together Career Scholars program is one of several strategies connected to this initiative. Under the leadership of Mike Flood, former Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature and Aksarben board member, a group of community leaders identified six bold strategies to transform this region of Nebraska:

Retain youth in the community

Norfolk’s business community has recognized that its future depends on high-skill, high-wage employees. That’s why a key component of this initiative is through the development of cooperative education scholarships. The purpose of these scholarships are to create a skilled IT and entrepreneurial workforce that will remain in our region. Through the Growing Together Scholars Program, not only will students have opportunities to find careers relevant to their degrees, they’ll have opportunities to mingle and form meaningful relationships with others. These opportunities and relationships play an important role in convincing young people to stay in the area.

Program goals

  • Retain talent between the ages of 20-34 in high-skilled, high-wage jobs to counter the current shortage of four-year degree holders in Northeast Nebraska
  • Increase the number of four-year high tech graduates in the fields of information technology, computer science, business, communications, and industrial technology who live and work in Madison County
  • Provide students with a meaningful set of career-relevant skills and help them find employment in their field in Northeast Nebraska

Transforming downtown Norfolk

Northeast Nebraska is committed to retaining its young professionals - our future workforce. The city of Norfolk has invested $40 million in its downtown riverfront toward the development of affordable housing units for young people, along with Norfolk’s version of Aksarben Village. This new “village” will ultimately become the corporate home to several local businesses with young workers, and it will provide young people with a place to live, work, and play - all in a community of people their own age.

Learn more about the Aksarben workforce initiative