Proactive and Patient: Managing Immigration and Demographic Changes in 2 Rural Nebraska Communities

Report Author: 
Sara McElmurry
Original Date of Publication: 
November, 2018

Lexington and Madison—rural Nebraska towns of 10,090 and 2,634 residents, respectively—are now enjoying the fruits of three decades of demographic transformation that has simultaneously advanced and challenged their communities. The two towns had a combined foreign-born adult population of just 124 in the 1990 census. Today, three decades after the opening of meatpacking plants in both communities, nearly half of Lexington’s adult population was born outside the United States, as was one-third of the adult population of Madison. Newcomers, hailing from all corners of the world, accounted for 100 percent of both towns’ population growth from 1990 to 2016.

Proactive and Patient: Managing Immigration and Demographic Changes in 2 Rural Nebraska Communities looks beyond the numbers to understand how Lexington and Madison—communities selected for study based on their rurality, rapid demographic change, and resulting resilience—have adapted to newcomers. Informed by conversations with more than 70 stakeholders in local government, education, faith, business, and nonprofit and civic organizations, along with lifelong residents and newcomers, this report tells the story of change and the successful management of that change in both towns. It explores the effectiveness of intentional strategies taken by key institutions, the successes and decentralized efforts of dedicated civic leaders, and the power of unique characteristics innate to small towns.

Download now or view online

Citation: 

McElmurry, S. (2018). Proactive and Patient: Managing Immigration and Demographic Changes in 2 Rural Nebraska Communities. Center for American Progress. Retrieved from https://cdn.americanprogress.org/content/uploads/2018/11/13133616/RuralNebraska-report2.pdf

Source Organization: 
Center for American Progress
Topics: 
Geographies: