A survey of residents in southwest Iowa and southeast Nebraska finds the region compares favorably with San Diego and some of the nation’s other top places to live in terms of quality of life.
Greg Youell, executive director of the Metro Area Planning Agency, says the survey was commissioned in preparation for “Heartland 2050,” a long-range development project, and found residents in the region love living there. “The people here really enjoy it,” Youell says. “They have a high quality of life, quite a bit higher than the national averages. They feel optimistic overall, again much higher than the national averages, about the future.”
The survey found 60-percent of those questioned believe the region is on the right track and well above the national average. There were still concerns, including things like the need for more quality jobs and retaining well-educated young adults. “The top two that stood out were crime and taxes,” Youell says. “We talked too about potential solutions and there’s a lot of interest in revitalization and reinvestment but not so much in growing outward. They really think we need to invest in our existing communities.”
He says the consultant who organized the survey has a new view of the region. “Our quality of life here was as high as any he’d ever seen and compared us with San Diego,” Youell says. “While it’s cold right now and we don’t think of ourselves like San Diego, he said the people really have something special here that they really appreciate.”
Youell says the responses will be used as part of four future development scenarios resulting in a plan for responsible growth in the region. The survey questioned residents in: Harrison, Mills and Pottawattamie counties in Iowa, and in Cass, Douglas, Sarpy, Saunders and Washington counties in Nebraska.