Grand Island is now the newest metropolitan area in Nebraska. It joins Lincoln, Omaha, and Sioux City with the distinction.
The newly designated Grand Island Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Hall, Hamilton, Merrick, and Howard Counties.
On the surface, the new label doesn't change much.
"It doesn't change government structure, it doesn't change taxing ability or authority, it doesn't change the taxes that are collected, it doesn't change any of those things," said Chad Nabity, the Grand Island Hall County Regional Planning Director.
What it does change is the status of Grand Island, the core city in the MSA. Grand Island will now have direct access to federal programs.
"There are a number of federal programs that a tied with the declaration as a metropolitan statistical area, including Community Development Block Grants. This will make us eligible to be an entitlement community," Nabity said.
Area businesses will also benefit, as the new metropolitan area will get statistical data on a more frequent basis.
"It means we get better, more timely, more detailed economic data. We'll get better data on employment trends, on economic development, on business patterns," said Nabity.
And officials said the designation will attract new businesses.
"There are only 381 of those MSAs. If you're a business looking for an area that is designated as a MSA, we've made that cut. So are there businesses that look at that? There certainly are," said Nabity.
The new label brings salary increases for the City of Grand Island employees as well. The Grand Island MSA has a total population of more than 83,000, and the city will be comparing its wages with those of other MSAs of comparable size.
"Now that we are an MSA, we don't compare to cities who are not in a MSA, which is going to take us to bigger locations," said Brenda Sutherland, Human Resources Director for the City of Grand Island.
Sutherland said she expects a comparable wages study to be conducted in the next two to three months.