Thursday, January 10 2019
State of Nebraska Celebrates Economic Achievements While Looking Toward the Future
When Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts addressed state and local leaders during the annual Governor’s Economic Development Summit in July 2018, there was plenty to talk about in terms of the past year’s achievements.
In recent years, Nebraska has seen phenomenal job-creating investments across the State, with accomplishmets such as Costco’s progress on building a major poultry processing facility in the city of Fremont, Kawasaki’s expansion with a U.S. aerostructures division in Lincoln, Facebook’s investment in a data center in Papillion and Becton Dickinson’s expansion in the cities of Columbus and Holdrege. The State was also acknowledged for the second-consecutive year by Site Selection magazine for achieving the most economic development projects per capita of any state in the nation.
Governor Ricketts took a few moments to celebrate the achievements before sharing his vision for growing Nebraska in the future.
Since taking office in 2015, Ricketts has successfully promoted economic growth initiatives, rallying state agencies around a vision to “Grow Nebraska” and cultivate one of the most attractive places in the world to live, work and do business.
The signs of success are already apparent. As of December 2018, Nebraska ranked as the number five state for business and had the nation’s number two regulatory environment according to Forbes. CNBC positioned the State in the number two spot for business costs and number 12 for business friendliness. Mercatus Center said Nebraska had the "Nation’s Best Fiscal Condition," while U.S. News and World Report ranked it as the "Seventh Best State Overall."
But an even more telling statistic, perhaps, was Nebraska’s tally of over one million nonfarm jobs for the first time in state history, beginning in 2016 and repeated in subsequent years—a sign of steady growth in industries like manufacturing, healthcare and bioscience.
Yet, ask Ricketts or any of Nebraska’s economic development champions, and they will tell you there is still work to be done and opportunities to do an even better job. State of Nebraska agencies, policymakers and even in-state businesses are working in concert to add to the economic momentum.
At the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), business recruitment experts are hard at work, not only contacting leads and marketing Nebraska’s strengths – a central location, robust tax incentives, competitive power rates, low business costs, and a highly-educated and hardworking workforce – they are also forging partnerships to address the specific issues that businesses and industries identify as important.
For example, the DED-led Developing Youth Talent Initiative, launched by Ricketts in 2015, is creating partnerships between state stakeholders and resident companies, like Reinke Manufacturing and Becton Dickinson, to implement STEM and career-based curriculums in middle schools and prepare students to take on roles in tomorrow’s manufacturing and information-technology workforce. In the same vein, the Customized Job Training program is helping private employers satisfy immediate skilled labor demands by subsidizing community college classroom training for current and incoming employees.
Meanwhile, the Governor’s Council for International Relations, consisting of leaders from over 25 state agencies and organizations, is boosting the State’s trade successes by promoting new opportunities for Nebraska companies abroad. This includes representing Nebraska businesses and products at domestic and international trade shows, providing financial and informational resources to help companies start exporting, and working with entities like the University of Nebraska to source international students and entrepreneurs.
These and other "Grow Nebraska" initiatives are bolstered by Governor Ricketts’ ongoing efforts to cut red tape and taxes, reduce regulations and run Nebraska more like a business. Permitting processes that can take months in other states, now take days as a result of new process-improvement initiatives. Registered apprenticeship and job training programs spearheaded by the Nebraska Department of Labor are connecting everyday Nebraskans with valuable work opportunities while adding to the State’s skilled labor pool.
In a state known for its views of the horizon, there is all the more reason to keep looking ahead.