UNO is Bullish on Enrollment

The OWH reported on a plan to increase enrollment at the University of Nebraska – Omaha to about 20,000 over the next eight years from it’s current level slightly below 15,500.

We at Alchemy Development can’t wait for the bigger crowds to mingle around Aksarben Village. Our motives are entirely selfish: the scavenger hunt for the annual Robert Hancock & Co. picnic at Stinson Park will become more challenging.

You see, more students translates into more shoppers and those shoppers will want more options for entertainment, dining, and (ahem) housing in the Aksarben Village neighborhood. More options means more challenging clues for the scavenger hunt.

Right now, it’s not too hard to find a cocktail napkin from Liv Lounge, a cupcake from Jones Bros., and a picture next to Omaha’s (the horse) statue and get back to home base in 15 minutes.

In a few years, we’ll have to nab a petunia from the florist, a pair of Smartwool socks from the fly fishing outfitter, an ostrich egg from Le Barouf, and three billiard chalks from Minnesota Fats’ Grill.

We’ll have to take the entire afternoon off.

Omaha in the Sky

OWH columnist Michael Kelly wrote about Omaha’s appearance in the most recent edition of the Delta Airlines in-flight magazine.

It’s a 28-page spread extolling all the economic miracles of the River City. Even Kelly blushes at some of the effusive praise lauded upon The Big O and wonders if Omaha can live up to such high expectations.

It’s as if suddenly Omaha entered the American consciousness the way Chuck Yeager emerged from the burning wreckage of his plane after breaking the sound barrier in the famous scene from “The Right Stuff”. (In this metaphor, the wreckage is the US economy, in case you couldn’t figure that out).

Enter stage left: Filthy prospector (like Mr. Howell in that dream he had on Gilligan’s Island).

Prospector/Howell: In the old days, when the inter-web was just beginnin’ to spit out it’s fanciful millionaires in Silicon Valley, Omaha was full of nuthin’ but hillbillies and cattle. Heck, Warren Buffett was just a crazy codger who clutched tightly to a bunch of businesses destined for the buggy-whip pile like in-sooo-rance and Coca-Cola. But today, everything is different! We’ve even got art on our corn silos!

(Sweeps hand across panorama of TD Ameritrade Park and First National Tower. Winks. Clicks spurs.)

(Enter well-dressed female executive in casual yet work-appropriate clothing. Possibly wearing stylish shoulder bag to represent modern version of Golden Sower statue.)

Executive: Now when we get stuck in conversations in other cities we don’t have to look at the floor and mumble something about Omaha being a great place to raise a family.

(Cue music: Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Fade to Black.)

Omaha’s denizens are wise to look such adulation with a bit of skepticism. It’s nice, but it’s a little like the girl who never got invited to the prom suddenly making head cheerleader. Or like the old cartoons when they ask for a volunteer to step forward and all but one actually step backwards. Suddenly some poor sap is out in front and gets sent into the mansion to look for ghosts.

The truth is that we’ve always been like Chuck Yeager Grinding it out year after year – going faster and faster. Nobody paid Chuck much attention with all the astronauts getting all the press. Now the astronauts have come back to Earth.