It’s ok, you can admit your first reaction to hearing the 2020 SIETAR Conference was being held in Omaha Nebraska was, “What? OMAHA? Why?” Well, over the next few months we’ll be answering those very questions.
Omaha is more than a “fly over” city, as the posters in the airport tell us. With a population of a bit over 400,000, five Fortune 500 companies call Omaha their home: ConAgra Foods; Union Pacific Corporation which is the largest operator of trains in the US; Mutual of Omaha; construction giant Kiewit Corporation; and of course, mega-conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, which is owned by none other than billionaire Warren Buffett. Other companies such as TD Ameritrade, Godfather Pizzas and American Gramaphone Records also hail from Omaha.
I’m sure one of the reasons so many companies proudly live in Omaha is because of what Nebraskans call “Nebraska nice.” People in Omaha are truly nice. I come from Detroit via Buffalo and I’ve always thought those of us from these two Great Lakes cities are pretty darn friendly but we have nothing on Nebraskans. People say hi to you in the streets. Clerks, managers and wait staff seem genuinely interested in your welfare without being intrusive. Doors are held, apologizes (and sometimes refunds) are given and if you’re perceived as being from out-of-town, locals insist you go ahead of them.
Or maybe it’s because of the food. You might know about the delicious Omaha steaks but they are by no means the only food to savor in Omaha. Although thousands of miles from the sea, I’ve had some of the best fish and chips, and salmon, that I’ve eaten anywhere, in Omaha. There seem to be a plethora of Irish pubs and bars in general, especially in the Old Market neighborhood but great food can be found almost anywhere. Not feeling Irish? That’s ok because Mexican, American, Indian, Chinese, and other foods are easily found.
We all know that Nebraska is in the middle of the country and can be windy, snowy and cold. So maybe that’s why Omaha has so many great places to be outside. Go to Turner Part which hosts jazz concerts, or the Heartland of America Park with their spectacular fountain which you can see close-up by taking a gondola ride! 31-acres isn’t enough for you? Well then you can head to Lauritzen Gardens which is 100 acres of outdoor gardens including a rose garden, Victorian garden, children’s garden and arboretum. It also hosts a 20,000-square foot conservatory which contains unusual and rare plants. In central downtown Omaha is the Lewis and Clark landing with a Riverwalk along the Missouri, Lewis and Clark interpretive exhibits and the second largest monument, dedicated to the Labor Movement, in the U.S.
The Omaha Hilton, our home for the conference, is strategically located so these gems are within walking or a short Lyft ride away. With Fall just emerging in early October, the weather should be wonderful for enjoying the food and outdoor activities that Omaha offers. Still not convinced you should join us? Stay tuned for our next newsletter which will present more Omaha Nebraska facts that may surprise you.
Deborah Orlowski, 2020 SIETAR Conference Chair