LINCOLN – NE Chamber leaders today outlined proactive measures it will promote through 2022 to help Nebraska families and the state economy recover from the economic setbacks of the coronavirus pandemic and propel the state into new heights of economic prosperity, population and job growth, and business investment.
The NE Chamber’s “Back to Business” initiative is a commitment to a statewide action plan that leverages both policy measures and community partnerships to enhance Nebraska’s economic competitiveness and attract new residents and business investment. It is a commitment to resolutely bridging differences and seeking consensus on the state’s economic path forward.
“We’ve been hit hard. No question,” said Bryan Slone, NE Chamber president. “Our focus for the next two years must be two-fold, keep people safe and businesses open and take bold steps for economic recovery.”
Two priorities drive the Back to Business agenda:
The agenda promotes leveraging opportunities presented by:
“The race to economic recovery and talent attraction has already begun. Several states are investigating revolutionary measures to drive new population and economic growth,” said Slone. “That can be Nebraska. The resilience of our state finances, key sectors and even employment numbers gives us a competitive edge in that race. Our economic and quality-of-life advantages today are the secret to a healthy and growing economy tomorrow.”
The Back to Business agenda reaffirms and complements 15 initiatives outlined in the Blueprint Nebraska statewide strategic plan for economic development. The report involved input from more than 7,000 Nebraskans and expertise of 320 state, private sector, agriculture, education and civic leaders. In 2019, the NE Chamber signed on as a strategic partner in Blueprint Nebraska. Learn more at Blueprint-Nebraska.org.
The NE Chamber is the largest, statewide business association and has proudly served as the voice of Nebraska’s business community since 1912. The organization promotes and protects Nebraska’s free enterprise system by ensuring a competitive business climate, economic growth and greater prosperity for all Nebraskans. The full Back to Business agenda is available at nechamber.com.
Files for reference
Back to Business Priorities
Back to Business Priority Matrix
Back to Business PowerPoint Presentation
Back to Business Briefing Video
LINCOLN – Four statewide manufacturing groups pledged today to join forces and coordinate their individual efforts to grow manufacturing and STEM workforce in Nebraska over the next decade.
The “Made in Nebraska Manufacturing Alliance” is comprised of:
“Stronger together. That’s the new mantra of this group of energized Nebraska manufacturing leaders,” said Bryan Slone, NE Chamber president. “The growth and advancement of one of our top industries is constrained – particularly by available talent. To make great strides, we need a great team. Creating this alliance is the beginning of a one-voice/one vision path to progress.”
The Made in Nebraska Alliance will bring efficiency and alignment to several programs designed to help:
The Alliance embraces the economic development priorities put forth in the Blueprint Nebraska report, Growing the Good Life. The report identified 15 signature initiatives with the broadest and deepest impact on statewide quality of life, overall job growth, attracting 18-34-year-olds and the cost of living and doing business in the state. The plan also included a strong focus on growth of key business sectors across Nebraska by accelerating the adoption of technology and unlocking innovation in key industries like agriculture and manufacturing.
Statements from the Made in Nebraska Alliance
Phil Raimondo President and CEO, Behlen Manufacturing
“This Alliance will help highlight the importance of manufacturing in the state of Nebraska as we prepare for future growth and partner with education and business leaders to advocate for advanced technical skills training and continuous learning to increase the pipeline of a skilled workforce across the state.”
Jim Smith, President, Blueprint Nebraska; Chair, Nebraska Advanced Manufacturing Coalition (NAMC)
“Manufacturing is part of the fabric of our communities. It supports our producers and provides good-paying jobs. The stability of the sector has helped bring us through the pandemic. And now, manufacturing is playing the critical role of tech-accelerator. It’s time to up our ante in this sector.”
Scott Volk, Vice President and COO, MetalQuest Unlimited; Chair-elect Nebraska Manufacturing Advisory Council (NeMAC)
“Manufacturing is one of the most high-tech industries in the world. As manufacturers, we have not done a great job of promoting our high-tech careers or utilizing our technology to the extent we can. Manufacturing can offer exciting high-tech careers with lots of opportunity and potential. These careers will lead to job growth as we adopt and implement the technology that grows our businesses.
“The Nebraska Manufacturing Alliance will strengthen existing relationships between some manufacturers in the state and foster new relationships, allowing us to work together to grow our high-tech workforce, build needed infrastructure, and address the challenges we will face.
“Nebraska manufacturing has the opportunity to be a leader in modern manufacturing, showing the world how to grow jobs and businesses using technology and automation. Working alongside our public local, state, and education partners, we can make Nebraska Manufacturing as well-known as Nebraska Agriculture.”
Matt Allmand, Director, Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership, University of Nebraska – Lincoln (Nebraska MEP)
“Our work ethic makes manufacturing special in Nebraska. The alliance is a collaborative effort to help grow Nebraska. A strong manufacturing base makes a stronger state. The Nebraska MEP is part of the MEP National Network, known as the go-to experts for advancing U.S. manufacturing. We believe in the future of manufacturing and are committed to help train and support the next generation of manufacturing companies and their employees.”
Final report expected in late 2020
LINCOLN – Blueprint Nebraska today highlighted the release of two key white papers outlining the case for broad modernization of Nebraska’s outdated tax system. The organization will consider themes presented in these papers as it prepares to deliver a final report outlining the path to tax reform consistent with its strategic growth plan for Nebraska. A final report is expected in late 2020.
“Nebraska stands poised and positioned for unprecedented economic growth and success,” said Jim Smith, Blueprint Nebraska president. “Tax modernization and reform, as part of the comprehensive Blueprint Nebraska plan, offers the best path for seizing this opportunity. Such an initiative will boost statewide economic competitiveness, growth and prosperity as reflected in higher wages, increased jobs and stronger investment by current and prospective employers.”
The white papers, available at blueprint-nebraska.org, are authored by the Tax Foundation, one of the nation’s leading voices on tax policy, and David Brunori, Senior Director at RSM US LLC and Research Professor of Public Policy at The George Washington University. The two pieces separately recommend a principled approach to modernizing Nebraska’s tax structure.
The tax policy experts supported the following overarching principles to guide tax reform efforts in Nebraska.
In 2019, Blueprint Nebraska released its statewide economic plan, Growing the Good Life. The report identified 15 signature initiatives with the broadest and deepest impact on statewide quality of life, overall job growth, attracting 18-34-year-olds and the cost of living and doing business in the state. The plan also included a strong focus on growth of key business sectors across Nebraska by accelerating the adoption of technology and unlocking innovation in key industries like agriculture and manufacturing.
Blueprint Nebraska Tax Modernization
Blueprint Nebraska Tax Modernization Tax Foundation Report
LINCOLN – CLAAS Omaha Inc. and MetalQuest Unlimited, Inc. of Hebron have been named Nebraska Manufacturers of the Year. MetalQuest received the award for small-sized manufacturers, while CLAAS received the award for large manufacturers.
The award recognizes Nebraska manufacturers that implement innovative ways to conduct business through the use of products, processes, technologies and strategies. The companies were honored Monday at the NE Chamber’s Digital Manufacturing Summit Series, with top sponsor RSM US LLP, a leading provider of assurance, tax and consulting services to the manufacturing and wholesale distribution industries. Other event sponsors include Nebraska Public Power District, Ash Grove, and Behlen.
“Nebraska’s manufacturers are on the cutting edge of innovation that meets both typical demand and that of a pandemic-stricken nation,” said Bryan Slone, NE Chamber president. “MetalQuest and CLAAS are cases in point. Their innovative cultures offer resilience and stability in uncertain times. We are grateful they’ve chosen Nebraska to build and grow.”
Small Manufacturer of the Year
Headquartered in Hebron, MetalQuest produces tight-tolerance, precision, machined component parts for customers. Now with 56 employees and customers in 27 states who often ship internationally, the company was founded in 1996 in Deshler. It moved to its current location in Hebron in 1999 and has expanded twice since then.
“Innovation happens daily,” said Scott Harms, president. “One of our core values is the ‘third idea’. If you have an idea and I have an idea, we put those together and get the third idea, which is hopefully better than each individual idea.”
According to Harms and Scott Volk, vice president and COO, MetalQuest’s strength is in its employees who continue to adopt and implement the latest automation and technology. This keeps MetalQuest competitive in the marketplace. Two recent examples are a fully automated machining cell that makes oil field retainer segments and a multi-spindle CNC lathe that allows parts to be machined in seconds rather than minutes. Automation and technology help MetalQuest stand out among competitors and international suppliers.
Large Manufacturer of the Year
Introducing the latest series of LEXION combines into the Omaha production line is one of the company’s more significant achievements, according to Matthias Ristow, president and managing director of business administration for CLASS Omaha Inc. The process can often be very disruptive to a production process that relies on accuracy through consistency, but it went relatively smoothly in Omaha.
Now with 138 employees and customers throughout the U.S. and Canada, CLAAS Omaha Inc. came to Nebraska in 2001 and has been expanding ever since.
“CLAAS is a large, global leader in agricultural equipment, but it’s still small enough that we value the input of each of our employees,” said Ristow. Quoting the former Chair of the Supervisory Board, Helmut Claas, he added, “There’s no secret to our success. We just have good ideas and motivated people.”
CLASS Omaha recently developed a dual-education apprenticeship program that includes both theoretical learning offered in typical schooling and formal training in the company and on projects. The program starts later this year.
Nebraska is home to more than 1,500 manufacturers employing 100,000 workers. One in 10 jobs is in manufacturing. The industry contributed more than $14 billion annually to Nebraska’s Gross State Product. Average annual wages in manufacturing exceeded $66,300 in 2018, the most recent year data is available.
The Nebraska Chamber is the largest, statewide business association and has proudly served as the voice of Nebraska’s business community since 1912.
Award videos available at https://www.nechamber.com/manufacturers-of-the-year.html
Webinar format fosters local dialogue on workforce, economic development and state elections
LINCOLN – The NE Chamber, community colleges and several local chambers invite business manufacturing leaders across the state to attend the NE Chamber’s Fall Forums held virtually this year from the campuses of Nebraska’s six community colleges.
There is no cost to attend. Featured speakers include NE Chamber President Bryan Slone, Blueprint Nebraska President Jim Smith, and the community college president, state legislators and legislative candidates associated with each region. Register at web.nechamber.com/events. Media representatives are asked to RSVP in advance to accommodate interviews and ensure health protocols are met in each location.
Named “Straight Talk with State Leaders”, this year’s fall forums are designed to inspire community dialogue on economic development and workforce needs unique to each region. They also provide a forum for state and local chamber members to engage directly with local state legislators and legislative candidates as the 2020 General Election approaches.
“The NE Chamber Fall Forums have been a time-honored tradition among state and local chamber members for years. In addition to offering valuable time with state leaders and candidates in an election year, they offer a chance for frank, two-way communication between Chamber members and leadership on the issues affecting business,” said Bryan Slone, NE Chamber president. “We just could not forego the Fall Forums due to the pandemic, so we reworked them into a model that is arguably even more compelling as we march toward economic recovery.”
The Nebraska Chamber is the largest, statewide business association and has proudly served as the voice of Nebraska’s business community to state leaders since 1912.
NE Chamber Regional Fall Forums
Western Nebraska Community College
Wednesday, October 7, 8 – 9:30 a.m. MDT
Mid Plains Community College
Thursday, October 8; 8 – 9:30 a.m. CDT
Metro Community College
Tuesday, October 13, noon – 1:30 p.m. CDT
Southeast Community College
Thursday, October 22, 8 – 9:30 a.m. CDT
Northeast Community College
Friday, October 23, 8 – 9:30 a.m. CDT
Central Community College
Wednesday, November 4, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. CDT
NOTE: Please see below for the schedule
OMAHA – On Thursday, October 1st, Governor Pete Ricketts will travel to CLAAS in Omaha and MetalQuest in Hebron to highlight Manufacturing Month in Nebraska. He will be joined by Bryan Slone, President of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Tony Goins, Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED).
“Manufacturers in our state support about 100,000 great-paying jobs. They grow Nebraska through their ingenuity and innovation,” said Gov. Ricketts. “Our manufacturers are developing products to deliver coronavirus vaccines and creating the next generation of high-tech agricultural machinery to help feed the world. In October, we recognize their contributions to our state and celebrate their inventiveness.”
Manufacturing is one of Nebraska’s most important industries, contributing over $14 billion to the state’s Gross Domestic Product annually. The Nebraska Chamber and the Nebraska Manufacturing Advisory Council (NeMAC)—led by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Department of Education, and the Department of Labor, in partnership with the private sector—champion the growth of manufacturing in the state. Together, these organizations give voice to the opportunities and challenges surrounding the industry, such as automation and workforce availability.
“Nebraska’s manufacturing sector is a vital economic engine for Nebraska,” said Nebraska Chamber President Bryan Slone. “Even during the many challenges of the pandemic, our manufacturers kept the lights on, their employees safe, and the economy moving in order to meet our nation’s critical needs. Manufacturing in Nebraska continues to provide thousands of high-tech and high-paying jobs and will provide important career opportunities for the next generation of Nebraskans carving out their own ‘Good Life’ right here at home.”
“This month is a chance to show our appreciation for the incredible manufacturing firms that are here creating economic opportunities for our citizens and families,” said DED Director Anthony L. Goins. “It’s also about reaffirming our goal to grow our state’s manufacturing sector by attracting and retaining workforce talent; recruiting high-tech, high-wage job creators; and cultivating a business climate conducive to success.”
According to a study by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, manufacturers expect to fill 4.6 million jobs in the United States between 2018 and 2028. This creates a host of opportunities for Americans looking for lucrative jobs where they can design, create, and build.
Throughout his administration, Gov. Ricketts has made it a priority to equip Nebraskans to excel in manufacturing careers. In 2015, he launched the Developing Youth Talent Initiative to give middle school students awareness of manufacturing careers and hands-on learning opportunities to build and create. The Governor has also been a big advocate of Registered Apprenticeships (RAs) during his time in office. Youth RAs allow high school students to gain job experience in the workplace while earning college credits. For college students, RAs offer the opportunity to earn while learning. Apprentices gain workplace skills and earn income, while simultaneously advancing toward a degree. Most recently, the Governor worked with the Legislature to invest in Nebraska Career Scholarships for students studying to enter great-paying careers in industries with a shortage of qualified workers, such as manufacturing.
The Governor, Chamber President Bryan Slone, and DED Director Tony Goins will kick off Manufacturing Month with a press conference at CLAAS on Thursday morning. They will also host a brief media availability at MetalQuest in Hebron later in the day. On a limited basis, both press events are open to credentialed media at the times and locations indicated below. Outlets are limited to ONE representative each. There will not be an opportunity for media tours of the facilities.
Thursday, October 1
9:00 AM CT Press Conference, CLAAS, 8401 132nd St., OMAHA
1:00 PM CT Media Availability, MetalQuest, 1410 Dove Rd., HEBRON
Nota Bene: These events are open to credentialed media on a limited basis.
By Bryan Slone, President, NE Chamber
As Nebraska plans for our post-COVID recovery, it’s urgent that we unite behind a pro-growth vision and seize a unique generational opportunity to leverage the quality-of-life advantages of our state. The pandemic has fundamentally changed the dynamics of how people view where they live and work. In these challenging times, there is no better place to come together and come home to than our Nebraska communities, from Omaha to Scottsbluff.
Our pro-growth agenda must transcend politics and geographies. Whether urban or rural, conservative or progressive, public or private, we all share a common interest at this critical point. Indeed, whether we focus on maintaining leadership in healthcare, education, our key industries, technology, or infrastructure, our efforts are likely interlinked. All require the kind of economic and population growth necessary to create the economic base and environment to accomplish these goals.
Being pro-growth in this way will require deliberately going on offense as a state. It will require working together in new ways and embracing new policies, public-private partnerships and funding models. It will require a consistent, multiyear commitment by community, business, charitable and public sector leaders to build communities and modern public services and amenities that successfully attract new businesses and new residents to Nebraska (particularly 18- to 34-year-olds).
Pursuing a pro-growth mentality means, not only doing new things, but continuing to support and grow our high-impact industries. It means removing barriers to progress. Depending on your passion, that can mean relieving tax burdens, connecting and upskilling workers, expanding broadband, addressing prison overcrowding, and delivering workforce solutions that move Nebraskans out of poverty.
Fortunately, Nebraska has a pro-growth plan in the Blueprint Nebraska report (blueprint-nebraska.org), its 15 growth initiatives and its related benchmarks for measuring success. This report reflects the input of literally thousands of people statewide and transcends politics and geography.
We were proud to be a partner in the development of the Blueprint Nebraska report, and we are committed to working as a partner with many communities and organizations in the execution of its plan. Blueprint Nebraska calls us to:
LINCOLN – The Nebraska Chamber and the state’s six community colleges have launched a survey to better understand employer training and credentialing needs across the state as unemployed and underemployed Nebraskans seek new work. All Nebraska employers are invited to take the survey by 5 p.m. central, Thursday, August 20.
The five-minute survey, currently being circulated among state and local chamber of commerce members, is designed to help community colleges develop training programs that align with local workforce needs and build skills needed to grow Nebraska’s post-pandemic economy.
The data gathered will help enrich programs for students attending community colleges through the Nebraska Workforce Retraining Initiative. The program, instituted by Governor Pete Ricketts with Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, provides scholarships to Nebraskans out of work or underemployed due to COVID-19. More information is available at https://southeast.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bjW48jRzsDCRH3T?Source=chamber
The Nebraska Chamber is the largest, statewide business association and has proudly served as the voice of Nebraska’s business community since 1912.
LINCOLN – Nebraska Chamber President Bryan Slone issued the following statement today on the outcome of legislative debate related to property tax relief and economic incentives.
“It’s Day 3 of the remaining legislative session, and unfortunately, both a property tax reform bill and economic incentives legislation stalled without action. This is a pivotal time for Nebraska. Our businesses are struggling to make ends meet and keep Nebraskans on their payrolls. It is essential that the state remains competitive in attracting businesses, jobs and people as we rebuild our economy and put Nebraskans back to work.
“Right now, Nebraskans are most concerned about the health of their families and their ability to provide for them by securing a job. The new, improved economic incentives program is ready to go to work for them on its own merits.
“There is sufficient time to act. During the next two weeks, all state leaders need to step up, recognize the consequences of a failure to act and cooperatively move critical legislation forward without raising taxes on an already burdened economy. The stakes could not be higher as actions or inaction now will have consequences for years to come.”
Nebraska Chambers of Commerce and Economic Developers Issue Joint Call to State Leaders to Pass ImagiNE Nebraska Act
LINCOLN – Chambers of Commerce and economic developers across Nebraska today are calling on state leaders to seek compromise in the remainder of the legislative session. Delivering both acceptable property tax reform and a modernized economic incentives program will help reboot Nebraska’s economy and get Nebraskans back to work in good-paying jobs. Now is not the time to let a successful economic incentives program expire, they write.
Pass LB720 to help get Nebraskans back to work
Nebraska is fortunate to be in a better employment and economic position than other states at this time. We can use that advantage to bounce back and compete better nationally and internationally, right now. Even more importantly, we can enhance quality-of-life for families challenged by the economic conditions of coronavirus. Now’s the time to pass the ImagiNE Nebraska Act (LB720).
No question: We must get Nebraskans back to work safely and businesses growing competitively. Economic incentives are one of the primary tools states can use to stimulate investment from the private sector –investment that will help get our economy growing at this critical time. The state’s commitment in LB720 will help jumpstart that activity.
Economic incentive agreements are public/private partnerships that have historically returned $2.02 in goods and services for $1 in incentives earned. That’s in addition to the $10.8 billion in private capital investment, 100,000 jobs and 170 communities in Nebraska that have benefited from the current incentives program over the last decade.
ImagiNE Nebraska better promotes upskilling and workforce development to improve quality of life for all working Nebraskans, and those looking to relocate here. The bill requires higher wages than in the past and mandatory health insurance options. Under LB720, benefits earned by employers can be used toward workforce training, childcare and education programs, in addition to the traditional tax incentives.
LB720 is a targeted program designed to support 21st-Century economic and civic needs. It supports the growth of Nebraska’s economic bread and butter – agribusiness and manufacturing – with right-sized thresholds for small businesses, startups, entrepreneurs and rural communities. The flexibility in benefits is designed to help startups and small businesses scale up. These are exactly the high-growth sectors and good-paying jobs we should be pursuing.
Proudly, the proposed economic incentives plan continues to be a pay-for-performance program – no benefit until investments are made and jobs are created.
Our economic reboot and acceleration are dependent on our combined ability to work together for the benefit of Nebraska businesses, workers and agricultural producers. There is no more time for inaction. Now is the time for action.
Together, state and local chambers of commerce and economic development organizations are urging legislators to:
This bill is ready to go to work for Nebraskans. Don’t let Nebraska be the only state without an incentive program just when we need it most.
Alliance Chamber of Commerce
Atkinson Area Chamber of Commerce
Aurora Development Corporation
Greater Bellevue Area Chamber of Commerce
Box Butte Development Corporation
Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce
Butler County Chamber of Commerce
Cass County Nebraska Economic Development Council
Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce
Cozad Chamber of Commerce
Cozad Development Corporation
Dawson Area Development
Falls City Economic Development and Growth Enterprise (EDGE)
Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce
Greater Fremont Development Council
Gage Area Growth Enterprise (NGage)
Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce
Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation
Grand Island Chamber of Commerce
Hastings Economic Development Corporation
Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce
Economic Development Council of Buffalo County
Keith County Area Development Corporation
City of Laurel Economic Development
League of Nebraska Municipalities
Lincoln Chamber of Commerce
Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corporation
Nebraska City Tourism & Commerce
Nebraska Economic Developers Association
Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce
Norfolk Area Economic Development Council
North Platte Area Chamber and Development Corporation
Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation, Dawes County
Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce
Omaha Public Power District
O’Neill Area Chamber of Commerce
Phelps County Development Corporation
Ralston Area Chamber of Commerce
Sarpy County Economic Development Corporation
City of Scottsbluff Economic Development
Scottsbluff/Gering United Chamber
Twin Cities Development Assoc., Inc.
Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership
Sidney and Cheyenne County Economic Development Partnership
South Platte United Chambers of Commerce
South Sioux City Community Development Agency
Washington County Chamber of Commerce
Gateway Development Corporation, Washington county
Valentine Chamber of Commerce
Valley County Economic Development
Wayne Area Economic Development
Western Nebraska Economic Development
York County Development Corporation