Welcome to Nebraska’s

PowerUP District

a six community region serving as a statewide hub for skills-based education and small business development

The PowerUP District has the opportunity to PowerUP:


by investing in human capital and skills of residents.


by reimagining, reinvesting and connecting assets.

the economy

by improving the economic growth of the area.


by growing the state's most promising industry sectors.


In 2020, the Polk County Rural Public Power District (PCRPPD) got curious about how the communities in their service area might work together to improve the quality of life for their current residents—retaining or even growing their populations down the road. Atlas Community Studios committed to walking alongside six communities in the Power District’s footprint to identify opportunities in the region to support this type of investment and growth.

The purpose of this plan is to identify a regional vision informed by common community needs and collaborative growth potential, narrowing the lens for a coordinated plan.

PowerUP Through Collaboration

a regional vision creates value for all communities

While individual communities may face their unique challenges, these can be reflected on a larger, regional scale as well—issues like population decline, housing, and workforce development impact entire regions, not just singular towns. Individual responses to these issues often require more time, money, and commitment than one community has. This is why regional cooperation can provide value to all communities—because they can address challenges collectively during one big project.

When communities work together on and communicate about regionally-focused initiatives, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

benefits of regional cooperation

Regional cooperation can provide many benefits to municipalities. It allows for the sharing of resources, costs, and data, which in turn can help stretch the impact that revitalization projects can have.

Cross-municipal collaboration allows for resource sharing, which means greater access to assets such as public and private organizations, funding opportunities, and local community member’s knowledge, skills, and time.

Working across jurisdictions provides the opportunity for data sharing, which means a broader availability of knowledge to help make more informed decisions. This can also reduce workloads by preventing the need for repetitive tasks.

Regional coordination has the potential to reduce the financial burdens in a few different ways. First, a unified voice could increase attention to and bring funding for necessary improvements. Second, when collaboration happens upfront, less time and money needs to be spent in the long run persuading people of a project’s potential. Lastly, creating an economy of effort and streamlined referral can help make funding go further.

A streamlined, collective approach to development and planning can lead to service and amenity offerings that can better meet a diverse set of resident needs, therefore strengthening the resident quality of life and a region’s capacity.

One of the more apparent benefits of collaboration more broadly is the increased breadth of ideas that come to the table. Having a diverse team can bring new, fresh ideas to light which can help solve complex problems and empower communities.

Another benefit of regional cooperation is the development of long-term partnerships, which can be advantageous for future projects.

challenges of regional cooperation

 Most of these challenges can be addressed upfront by ensuring that all project partners are on the same page regarding project goals and workload expectations. 

One of the challenges in regional collaboration is finding the balance between collective action and local autonomy. Navigating the adjustment period means figuring out how to participate in a new collaborative process whilst simultaneously maintaining other departmental requirements as usual.

Each jurisdiction can have different processes and ideas regarding cost, staff, capacity, and project timelines. These differences can create assumptions that can hinder project success.

As with all collaborative efforts, there is the risk of a group doing more work than the other and of others reaping the rewards without participating in the process. Expectations for participation can be agreed upon at the start of projects to prevent this from happening.

This can hinder the progress and outcomes of cooperative efforts because parties may compete over resources and funding rather than share them. While it may ostensibly make sense to put your community above others, the reality is that a more collaborative approach can create both an economy of effort and an environment of trust and raise the quality of life for an entire region.

see the full plan

This website is a condensed version of the entire plan. Here, you’ll get a high-level overview of the project research and recommendations without all of the nitty-gritty details (we know those aren’t for everyone).

However, if you’re like us and don’t mind a rabbit hole or two of information, we’ve got you covered! The complete PDF plan is available for you to read at the link below.

read the highlights online:

our 2 cents, based on your 2 cents