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Published:  Friday, March 25, 2022

After extensive and spirited debate, Nebraska state senators advanced the North Omaha Recovery Act to the next phase on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

With a 28-0 vote and 19 non-votes, the $475 million package was moved to select file and will now go through some adjustments based on the discussions heard on the floor of the Nebraska Unicameral.  It will need to advance through two more rounds of debate in order to make it to Governor Pete Rickett’s desk.

The plan calls for investments in entrepreneurship, employment, job creation, workforce training, housing, and tourism.   It is a business centric approach to help address the disproportionate impact of  COVID-19 and the underlying economic conditions that have hindered North Omaha for decades.

Senators Justin Wayne and Terrell McKinney presented a compelling case for the much needed funds to help accelerate improvements and developments in North and South Omaha and other communities with qualified census tracts around the state.

“North Omaha has been neglected for decades,” said Wayne.  “This is exactly what the ARPA funds were designed for.  But, it doesn’t matter to me where the funds come from.  ARPA.  Cash reserve.  General funds.  I am open.”

Some senators questioned the level of investment and wanted to know more about the process for implementation.

McKinney had an answer.  “One area we can find funds is the $175 million currently budgeted for a prison,” he said.  “Let’s invest in people, not prisons.  That is the responsible and conservative thing to do.”

Other senators voiced support, but said they would want more details about the amount and the sources of the funds before they vote on the next round.

Wayne responded.  “It’s interesting that some senators had absolutely no questions with how we allocated $4 billion dollars with the overall state budget, but now want to question every detail when it comes to North Omaha.”

The bill was initially introduced by Wayne and McKinney based on their review of other plans for North Omaha.  Over fifty testifiers traveled to Lincoln to speak with the Urban Affairs and Appropriations Committees during public hearings.

Later, Senator Tony Vargas of South Omaha and a group of business leaders developed a separate $50 million proposal for South Omaha. Thirty additional speakers attended the hearing for the South Omaha bill.

Eventually, the senators from North and South Omaha decided to join forces and created the East Omaha Recovery Plan.  That plan was voted out of the Urban Affairs Committee on a 6-1 vote leading to this first round discussion with the full senate.

It will come back to the floor for the next round after some additional discussions and negotiations between the senators.

“We will come back with more details and we are willing to talk to anyone about the best way to move things forward,” said Wayne.

“To make it plain, this is our attempt to put a boot factory in North Omaha to provide our community with the proverbial boots that they have yet to receive in our lifetime in order to give them the tools and empower them to pull themselves up,” added McKinney.

The debate on the floor of the Nebraska Legislature the entire week has primarily focused on the state budget, use of the federal ARPA funds, the needs of North Omaha, whether to build a new prison or invest in reforms and other important issues facing the state.  Negotiations between senators are ongoing to finalize the amount that will be allocated to North and South Omaha and for projects across the state.

Learn more about the plan.

Community Features

Free Lead Testing in East Omaha


Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is often found in soil, paint produced before 1978, older pipes, toys and even food. When it enters the body, its effects can be toxic, causing neurological and developmental damage and effecting organs, such as the lungs and kidneys.

When it comes to lead, there is no safe level.  Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning, as their bodies absorb higher concentrations of lead than adults.  This can cause permanent damage to their cognitive and physical development.

  • Due to historic lead air pollution deposits, the eastern part of Omaha is designated as an EPA Superfund site. Therefore, properties located in this site are eligible for free soil sampling and testing.
  • If the concentration of lead in the soil exceeds the EPA’s threshold, the City will perform free remediation of the soil.
  • Properties that meet these criteria are eligible for an assessment of the exterior for lead-based paint. If lead is found, a free paint stabilization will be done.

The City of Omaha has set up an easy-to-use website where Omaha residents can check to see if their property was tested for lead and remediated.  Results from soil tests can also be found at the website:

For more information about lead in Omaha and links to other programs available for residents to help keep their family safe from lead, go to or 402-731-3045.

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Coming Events

Magic Johnson returning to Omaha Sept. 30th for 10th Annual African-American Leadership Conference

Published:  Friday, September 2, 2022

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, five time NBA champion and one of the world’s leading business executives, entrepreneurs and philanthropists is returning to Omaha to keynote the Empowerment Network’s 10th Annual African-American Leadership Conference on Friday, September 30, 2022.

Tickets are now available at

“This is incredibly exciting for us,” said Willie Barney, CEO and founder of the Empowerment Network.  “Magic’s visit in May was absolutely amazing.  Many in attendance said it was one of the best speeches they’ve ever heard and I agree 100%,” said Barney.

“His message was extremely relevant and resonates will all ages…career advancement, leadership, teamwork, generational wealth, investing in our youth and community-building.”

“He has also proven that businesses can be highly successful in urban communities and he has demonstrated leadership in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Johnson has been a champion at every level.  He is best known for his legendary performance on the basketball court.  He and the Lakers transformed the NBA in the 80’s with a new style of basketball.  The showtime Lakers dominated with one of the greatest lineups of all time.

Beyond the basketball court, Magic is still making headlines.  As he puts it, Earvin is building a legacy through developing urban communities, business and sports team ownership and investments in advanced technology.

“After thinking and praying about who should be our speaker in September, ‘Run it Back’ was in my spirit.  Bring Magic back to build on the themes from May and deliver a new message to help accelerate our progress over the next 10 years,” said Barney.  “Our board president, Timothy Christian, reached out to Magic and his response was overwhelmingly positive as he loved his experience in Omaha.”

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Mr. Earvin “Magic” Johnson back in Omaha for the 10th Annual African-American Leadership Conference,” said Christian.  “Mr. Johnson embodies everything we stand for at the Empowerment Network.  He is a proven leader on and off the court and he cares deeply about helping African-Americans and the underserved across the country. We’re looking forward to the wisdom he will share during the conference.”

“In addition to the seasoned and emerging leaders from all sectors, we also want more of our high school and college students to hear the message and we will have specific sessions for them as well,” said Barney.

The African-American Leadership Conferences promises to be even bigger and better.  In addition to Magic Johnson, the Network will feature four national keynote speakers, dozens of local leaders and experts.

National strategist and partners, Dr. Will Moreland – Using Your Gifts for Career Advancement and Creating Multiple Streams of Income; Suzan Hart – Rewriting Your Story to Live with Purpose; Dr. George Fraser – Building Strong Businesses to Create Jobs and Thriving Communities; and, Dr. Pamela Jolly – Using the Wealth Checklist to Build Legacy Wealth.  They along with others will present from the main stage and host breakout sessions.


Local speakers will include: Veta Jeffrey, CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce; Jay Warren-Teamer, Director of Diversity and Inclusion – Blue Cross Blue Shield; Aaron Austin, Chief Human Resources Officer – CHI Health Center; Dr. Cheryl Logan, Superintendent of Omaha Public Schools; Raquel Henderson, Pathway Coordinator – Metropolitan Community College and dozens of others.

Plus, representatives from 10 regional and national cities looking to replicate the Empowerment Network collective approach will be in attendance.

The conference will also feature a full scale Revive Black Business Expo including dozens of Omaha’s Black business owners, innovators and entrepreneurs.

“As one of the original members of the Empowerment Network and a person committed to the success of our community, it has been amazing to see the progress we have made,” said John Ewing, Vice President of the Board.  “I’m excited for the future of our great city and future collaborations with leaders like Earvin “Magic” Johnson that will help us continue this great transformation.”

Current major sponsors include:

CHI Health
ConAgra Brands

Union Pacific
American National Bank

Children’s Hospital
Wells Fargo
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Get your tickets locked in today:

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Aug. 27th…Revive Black Business Summit…Maximizing Technology

We’re building capacity and momentum.  How can you maximize technology to grow your business?

Please use these links to learn more and register.

Learn More Here

Register Here

The next Revive Black Business Summit will be held Saturday, August 27th from 8:00 am to 10:30 am. It will be in-person and virtual.

We’ve had a great response with the first three summits with over 125 Black businesses, entrepreneurs and support organizations participating.  Let’s keep building together!

The location for the in-person event will be the Revive Center.  Breakfast and Networking will start at 8:00 am.

Please use these links to learn more and register.

Learn More Here

Register Here

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