(Lincoln, Neb.) Gov. Dave Heineman today outlined the findings of a new report that surveyed Nebraska’s business climate and recommended strategies to capitalize on the state’s existing resources.
“This report provides us with a roadmap for future economic development efforts,” Gov. Heineman said. “It helps us better understand Nebraska’s strengths and competitive advantages. It highlights opportunities for better collaboration, and it offers ideas for accelerating new economy innovation in communities across Nebraska.”
Three initiatives were identified as key to Nebraska’s future competitiveness, including: providing tailored support to encourage development of growing industries in the state; connecting talented professionals and recent graduates with opportunities for high-skills jobs in Nebraska; and supporting the innovative expansion efforts of companies already doing business in the state.
Industry-related strategies recommended in the study include developing tailored, industry-specific initiatives for business recruitment and workforce development. One initiative highlighted by the Governor includes developing a tourist destination similar in concept to a ‘Mahoney Park west’ to provide new recreational opportunities and attract new development in Nebraska’s central and western regions.
Talent-related recommendations for connecting graduates, young professionals and former Nebraskans to job opportunities include: using existing job training funds for developing a paid internship program to help employers recruit and train future staff; and providing job seekers with a more dynamic, searchable database for job openings.
Innovation-related initiatives designed to assist Nebraska’s growth-oriented companies include strategies such as expanding the outreach efforts of Nebraska’s Small Business Innovation Research program. Another strategy highlighted by the Governor includes creating an angel investment tax credit for the state.
The report indicates that Nebraska is well-positioned for continued growth with an unusually diverse economy. Twelve industry clusters were identified where Nebraska is already a national leader or is well-suited for additional growth.
Gov. Heineman said, “We are fortunate to have so many industries that are strong and contribute to our economic base. Our challenge for the next few years is to create new opportunities to attract more specialized and advanced companies to Nebraska.”
Five industries are strong with businesses providing specialized services and with growth rates outpacing national rates. Industries considered to be current strengths for Nebraska include: the financial services; companies providing transportation, warehousing and distribution logistics services; precision metals manufacturing; bioscience-related firms; and renewable energy.
Three industries represent emerging strengths for the state with strong potential to attract new investment and create new jobs. Emerging industries include: research and development and engineering services; health sciences; and hospitality and tourism.
Four industries provide specialized services to customers and have a significant presence in Nebraska. Companies are considered to be important to retain and would benefit from a highly-trained workforce. Four industries classified as retention priorities for the state include: agriculture and food processing; business management and administrative services; software and computer services; and agriculture machinery.
Simon Tripp, a Senior Director with Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, said, “Battelle has found Nebraska to have a diverse base of industry clusters, particularly in wealth creating, export oriented sectors. Importantly, many of these Nebraska clusters have been outpacing the nation in terms of value-added output growth. There’s clearly a good environment for business in Nebraska. Moving forward, the key will be for Nebraska to continue to support programs and initiatives that help industry sustain a competitive edge in the global economy, provide the necessary skilled workforce, and support innovation, entrepreneurship and new technology deployment.”
The comprehensive review was developed with input from state and local economic development professionals, university and college officials, and rural and urban business leaders. The Nebraska Departments of Economic Development and Labor oversaw and funded the study conducted by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, the world’s largest nonprofit independent research and development organization.
An overview of the report is available online at www.neded.org .
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