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The latest population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate an overall continuing trend in Nebraska of urban growth and a steady rural decline.

Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster counties, Nebraska’s three largest counties, all hit record population levels as of July 1 of last year and now account for more than 55 percent of the 1.93 million state residents, also an all-time high.

Dodge County barely hit a new all-time population high in 2018 (36,791).

It is one of five counties that have not only grown in both the early 2000s and early 2010s, but has done so at a faster pace so far this decade, according to Research Coordinator/Census expert David Drozd of the Center for Public Affairs Research that is based out of University of Nebraska at Omaha.

There are several general misconceptions regarding smaller communities that hinder them because they’re considered “the smaller guy.”

Among them are “there’s nothing to do,” “there are no shopping options,” “there are no restaurants” and “small communities don’t offer anything special.”

Fremont, though, is in a unique situation.

It has established itself as a rural community but with its close proximity to the Omaha metro area, it is also a community on the rise. As our reporting has shown (you can read all about Fremont’s growth on our website now), so much is happening.

The obvious example is the Costco Lincoln Premium Poultry facility which will open in September and with that, roughly 800 new jobs.

That number is projected to increase due to the ripple effect where more businesses follow Costco’s lead. A countywide housing study completed in 2017 by Hanna:Keelan Associates, P.C., found that 1,508 new homes were needed to be built in the county. The study also found that 1,194 new homes would be needed in Fremont.

To accommodate, ground was broken recently on two housing developments, SunRidge Place on the east side of town and Morningside Crossing on the northeast corner of Morningside Ave and U.S. Highway 275. Additionally, Gallery 23 East broke ground last year while construction on Morningside Pointe next to Deerfield is set to begin this summer. All told, those four developments will bring roughly 450 homes and 760 apartments to Fremont.

Businesses of all kinds continue to open, offering new opportunities to local people.

Other longtime businesses have stayed here for decades and continue to make investments in our area by hiring more employees and through expansion efforts. RTG Medical is one of several longtime businesses building a new headquarters in a new development after starting out here in 2000.

If we want Fremont and the counties of Dodge, Washington and Saunders to thrive and be a great place for generations to come, we have to do something about it now.

Growth is sometimes uncomfortable but if it is done right, this area can avoid that rural decline but still remain connected to our rural roots.

We believe we are on the right track.

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