Well, if you’ve ever been to the small city of Holdrege, Nebraska, population 5,506, you just might have witnessed the town residents walking around with beaming smiles on their faces.
Recently, released their rankings of the 49 places in Nebraska with more than 2,000 people in terms of happiness level: Where are people happiest? If you think it might be tricky to evaluate a general level of happiness, it is. So, the company used criteria like the unemployment rate, average commute time, cost of living, population of married adults, and a few other factors that played a significant role in what it means to be happy, according to the .
To many Nebraskans, this ranking comes as no surprise. says that Holdrege is the “poster town for Midwestern values… if you were looking for someplace that embodied the kind of values that America was built on, like hard work, education, common sense, or care for others, you wouldn’t have to look farther than Holdrege.”
While safe schools, geographic proximity, churches, and other benefits of rural living (a la David City) play a factor in happiness, the strong presence of manufacturing and agricultural business contributes greatly to the city’s success: “Phelps County Development Corp. Executive Director Monica Boyken said there are many manufacturing and agricultural-based companies that employ people in Holdrege. According to the November 2015 Holdrege Community Guide, BD, manufacturer of insulin syringes, employs 534 people, and Allmand Bros. Inc., manufacturer of portable light towers, arrow boards, and industrial heaters, employs 177 people.”
And as it turns out, education plays a major factor in how “happy” the city’s residents are. 19.5% of the population has at least a bachelor’s degree. “We’re attractive because so many people do have their high school diploma or GED,” Boyken tells the Hub. “They at least have their baseline to work in a manufacturing setting.”
On one hand, Phelps County Development Center’s , “it’s just one of those fun surveys that floats around the internet.” However, there are real implications for these types of rankings: “It really just reminds us that exactly what we’re looking for is to create good jobs and more housing and all those kinds of things, because it’s a great community that people want to live here.”
If you’re interested in making a move to the storybook Midwestern town, the good news is that there are plenty of manufacturers there to work with. The aforementioned , one of the largest medical device manufacturers in the world, is actually the largest employer in Phelps County, with over 650 associates in their 350,000 square-foot building. is known for their exemplary tool bars and other agricultural specialized tools (read more about their long history in the region ).
You can look at the full list of “happiest places in Nebraska” , which include Aurora, Papillion, Gretna, and Geneva, just to name a few. The list is certainly a testament to both the benefits of rural life in Nebraska, and to the strong influence of manufacturers who provide work and comfortable standards of living throughout the state. Do you agree with the list? Let us know in the comments section below!