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Omaha ‘does a great job of investing in itself.’ Thank wealthy residents with a good attitude

A $44.2-million donation from Heritage Services in 2011 helped pay for TD Ameritrade Park Omaha
A $44.2-million donation from Heritage Services in 2011 helped pay for TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, a 24,000-seat downtown stadium that hosts the College World Series of baseball.
(Associated Press)

The city of Omaha “does a great job of investing in itself,” said James Chung, a son of Wichita, Kan., and founder of strategy and predictive analytics firm Reach Advisors. The low-profile Omaha nonprofit Heritage Services plays a large role in the investing.

Since 1990, Heritage Services, backed by some 100 mostly anonymous residents, has provided $725 million in private gifts to realize $1.2 billion in public projects. Most recently, those donations have included:

• $15.8 million in 2009 for the $75-million Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Center, a 15.5-acre campus with a 122,000-square-foot wellness facility with a pool, gym, healthcare and child-care services and performing arts space

• $8.7 million in 2009 for the Omaha South High School football/soccer field

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• $1.8 million in 2009 for land purchase for Omaha’s Metropolitan Community College

• $30 million in 2011 for the renovation of the Durham Museum, Omaha’s historical museum

• $44.2 million in 2011 that helped pay for the TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, a 24,000-seat downtown stadium that hosts the College World Series of baseball

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• $7.5 million in 2012 for the renovation of the Peter Kiewit Institute, home to the University of Nebraska Omaha’s College of Engineering and College of Information Science and Technology

• $38.2 million in 2013 for community investments in Opera Omaha, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and the Joslyn Art Museum

• $31.3 million in 2015 for the expansion of Omaha’s 100-acre Lauritzen Gardens

• $43 million in 2015 toward UNO’s $90-million Baxter Arena, which hosts the school’s hockey, basketball and other sports teams

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• $26.4 million in 2015 for the Do Space digital library

• $29 million in 2019 for Siena Francis House, a 535-bed emergency homeless shelter and drug rehabilitation center

• $30 million in 2020 for construction of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ $86-million Omaha VA Ambulatory Care Center

(Data provided by Heritage Services)

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