LINCOLN – Presenters at the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Annual Economic Development Summit November 7, at the downtown Embassy Suites by Hilton in Lincoln, focused on potential tactics to achieve initiatives identified in the recent Blueprint Nebraska report.
The report is a strategic plan designed to bolster the statewide economy and quality of life of all Nebraskans through 2030. First envisioned by Governor Pete Ricketts and former University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds, the report engaged more than 320 government, private sector, agricultural, education and civic leaders across the state over a 12-month research and public input process.
“The power of the Blueprint Nebraska process and report is in the action it inspires – in our communities, businesses, government and schools,” said Bryan Slone, Chamber president. “The Nebraska Chamber is inspired. We reshaped our summit to bring public and private sector partners to the table in search of big ideas that keep our state competitive in skilled labor, investment and economic growth.”
The conference agenda featured the following:
The Nebraska Chamber is the only statewide, broad-based business and industry association focused on enhancing the competitiveness of Nebraska’s business community, growing the state’s economy, strengthening communities and expanding opportunities for all Nebraskans through the legislative and regulatory processes.
ImagiNE Nebraska Act Promises Community Growth ‘Good for Nebraska’ Movement Kicks Off with Statewide Supporters
Lincoln, NE. November 7 – Nebraska legislators, economic developers, community leaders, and chambers of commerce executives rallied today in support of ImagiNE Nebraska (LB720), launching a statewide Good for Nebraska (goodfornebraska.org) movement to reiterate the economic benefits of incentive programs to communities of various sizes.
“Job creation, economic growth, redevelopment and talent retention are keys to a prosperous future for our communities – a vision that can be realized with the appropriate economic incentives programs in place,” Brook Aken, president of the Nebraska Economic Developers Association (NEDA).
Economic developers and community leaders from Beatrice, Chadron and Northwest Economic Development Association, Cass County, Hastings, Lincoln, North Platte and Omaha. spoke to the modern realities of driving business growth in communities at an open house following the news conference.
To illustrate the wide-reaching impact of economic incentives, Good for Nebraska supporters unveiled four hypothetical case studies illustrating the level of prosperity catalyzed by business growth in diverse communities, including new-to-market businesses and business-expansion projects resulting from economic incentives. For example, one new-to-market manufacturing facility can support as many as 763 related jobs statewide and boost personal income by $90.9 million annually.
“Our communities cannot afford to take a timeout on incentives and lose ground in attracting more, good-paying jobs and skilled workers,” said Nebraska State Senator Mark Kolterman, the bill’s sponsor. “My hometown is growing by 100 new jobs, thanks to competitive incentives. I hate to think of our future without them.”
“Delivering tax relief and growing Nebraska’s economy go hand in hand,” said Senator Lou Ann Linehan, Chair of the Legislature’s Revenue Committee. “We can’t achieve sustainable tax relief with a slowing or stagnant economy. We just have to keep the ball rolling on all fronts.”
ImagiNE Nebraska comes as Nebraska’s current economic incentives program, the Nebraska Advantage Act, prepares to sunset in 2020. Since 1987, incentive programs have created nearly 110,000 Nebraska jobs, and sparked more than $35 billion in qualified investment for the State of Nebraska. Currently, all 50 states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico, offer economic incentive programs.
“You can’t show up to Big 10 football without a strong recruitment program. And, you can’t show up to community economic development without a strong recruitment package,” said Bryan Slone, president, Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “The ImagiNE Nebraska Act definitely gives our communities better resources.” Slone represented chambers of commerce across Nebraska Thursday in launching Good for Nebraska.
“We are committed to implementing a robust, future-based incentives strategy that facilitates aggressive job growth and workforce development across the state,” said David G. Brown, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber. Brown also leads the State’s largest economic development partnership – a seven-county region representing 44 percent of Nebraska’s population.
“We can ensure a bright, dynamic future for Nebraska with strong incentives programs in place,” Wendy Birdsall, president, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, added. “Such proactive planning demonstrates we are committed to growing organizations and talent right here at home, as well as attracting business from around the globe.”
About ImagiNE Nebraska (LB720)
The “ImagiNE Nebraska Act” (LB 720) revises and enhances Nebraska’s incentives by encouraging the creation of higher paying jobs and more investment from employers both in Nebraska and outside the state. The bill has 19 cosponsors.
The bill helps address many of the modern needs faced by economic developers today, including:
Economic Incentive Community Case Studies
Available at goodfornebraska.org.
The Nebraska Chamber Manufacturing Summit, sponsored by RSM, was held on Thursday, October 24, 2019, with over 200 representatives of Nebraska manufacturing. Topics included in the program were an "Economic Update" by Joe Brusuelas, Chief Economist from RSM; "Industry and Innovation" by Brian Ardinger, Inside Outside Innovation Summit; "Bueprint Nebraska and how it pertains to Manufacturing" by Jim Smith of Blueprint Nebraska; "Women in Manufacturing update" by Emily Williams, President, WiM/Nebraska; and a panel discussion on "Next-Generation Manufacturing." After lunch Governor Ricketts discussed "Manufacturing in Nebraska" and the, along with Nebraska Chamber President, Bryan Slone, congratulated the 2019 Manufacturers of the Year: Preferred Popcorn and Valmont Industries.
CEO Norm Krug started Preferred Popcorn in 1997 with three other farmers in the Platte River area. The goal was growing high-quality, high-integrity popcorn for the world.
Today, Preferred Popcorn does just that with worldwide market potential equal to two-thirds of the population, and one of the highest customer retention rates in the industry. Still led by a team of producers who personally oversee the integrity of their project, the company employs highly qualified teams using the latest storage and processing technology.
Recent achievements include:
Nebraska is the No. 1 state for popcorn production, thanks to companies like Preferred Popcorn.
Founded in 1946 in Valley, Valmont Industries is a global leader in products that support critical infrastructure essential for economic and agricultural growth. It grew out of the invention and commercialization of the center pivot irrigation structure. The company is focused on conserving resources and improving life through:
More than 10,000 dedicated employees at over 83 facilities across the globe serve customers in 100 different countries. Workforce training will be critical to continued growth.
Valmont Industries consistently creates value for customers and shareholders in both the short- and long-term. Valmont is an important part of Nebraska's economic well-being and a company that continues to grow around the world.
Highlights from the Nebraska Chamber 2019 Manufacturing Summit
Top: Over 200 representatives of Nebraska manufacturers begin the day with an economic forecast by RSM US LLP.
Bottom left: State Senator John Lowe greets attendees during a break. Bottom right: Nebraska Chamber President Bryan Slone discusses initiatives designed to move more qualified workers into manufacturing jobs.
State, local and federal leaders visited the Scottsbluff Fall Forum. (From left) Rep. Adrian Smith, Blueprint Nebraska Executive Director Jim Smith, State Senator John Stinner, Rotary President Mike Downy. Scottsbluff/Gering Chamber Executive Director Karen Anderson, Nebraska Chamber President Bryan Slone, President/CEO of 21st Century Equipment Owen Palm (Blueprint Nebraska Co-Chair)
Great start to Fall Forums
More than 150 Nebraskans have received a first-hand briefing on the results of the Nebraska Blueprint initiative and next steps. That number will continue to grow as the Nebraska Chamber and Blueprint Nebraska continue Fall Forums, a 30-community tour through October.
Blueprint Nebraska, a long-term strategic plan for economic development, is drawing attention and interest. All four state senators attended sessions in their districts, and Congressman Adrian Smith joined us in Scottsbluff.
Chamber President Bryan Slone and Executive Vice President of Legislation and Policy Kristen Hassebrook are providing a review of the 2019 legislative session, as well as a look into priorities for 2020 and beyond. The Chamber plans to help achieve Blueprint Nebraska initiatives over the next five years.
LINCOLN – The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry has announced the members of its new Leadership Nebraska Class. This year’s class is the twelfth in the program’s history.
Leadership Nebraska was founded in 2006 to identify current and emerging leaders throughout the state, enhance their leadership skills and deepen their knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing Nebraska.
Participants have been selected from different regions of the state and possess varied backgrounds and diverse talents. All candidates have demonstrated an abiding interest in Nebraska and its future.
The program consists of six sessions covering a broad range of key Nebraska issues including economic development, health care, education, agriculture, government and policy development. Class XII begins with an orientation in June and will conclude in February 2020 with a commencement in Lincoln. Sessions will be conducted throughout various locations of the state.
Bryan Slone, president of the Nebraska Chamber, said: “Nebraska faces complex challenges in this new economy. To maintain and enhance our state’s competitiveness, we need well-informed, connected leaders who are ready to serve their fellow Nebraskans.”
Listed below are the 30 Nebraskans selected to participate in Leadership Nebraska’s Class XII, along with the class member’s employer and city.
Wade Regier, Pinnacle Bank, Aurora;
David Verkler, Exmark Manufacturing, Beatrice;
Justin Suhr, Great Plains Communications, Blair;
Angie Lauritsen, Lauritsen Ventures/City of Gretna, Gretna;
Dustin Favinger, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney;
Justin Gould, Black Hills Energy, Kearney;
Derek Rusher, Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce, Kearney;
Melissa Scott-Pandorf, KBRWyle-Houston, Kearney;
Marsha Wilkerson, BD Construction, Inc, Kearney;
Misty Ahmic, Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska, Lincoln;
Benjamin Baumfalk, First Five Nebraska, Lincoln;
Edward Boone, State Senator Tom Briese’s office, Lincoln;
Jennifer Heaton, Nebraska Bankers Association, Lincoln;
Peggy Reisher, Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska, Lincoln;
Jarid Childears, First National Bank, North Platte;
Norine Howard-Domenge, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, Omaha;
Travis Flodine, Mutual of Omaha Bank, Omaha;
Curtis Johnson, DLR Group-Architecture, Engineering, Planning, Interiors, Omaha;
Deborah Neary, MENTOR Nebraska, Omaha;
Heather Siebken, Omaha Public Power District, Omaha;
Paul Ternes, Peter Kiewit Foundation, Omaha;
Steve Wobken, Ash Grove Cement Company, Omaha;
Rebecca Ries, Valley County Health System Foundation, Ord;
Janell Anderson Ehrke, GROW Nebraska Foundation, Orleans;
Jordan Colwell, Regional West Physicians Clinic, Scottsbluff;
Caitlin Jerabek, Beyond Blueprints, St. Paul;
Barbara Fowler, Polk County Rural Public Power District, Stromsburg;
Emma Stokely, Franciscan Care Services, West Point;
Patrick Hanrahan, Nebraska Public Power District, York;
Mark Way, York State Bank, York.
The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry will welcome Holley Salmi to its professional staff later in April, 2019. As Vice President of Public Affairs & Policy, Salmi will lead the Nebraska Chamber communications and assist with the chamber's policy and lobbying strategies.
Before joining the Nebraska Chamber, Salmi served as a Manager of Communications and Public Affairs with the City of Lincoln. She formerly served as a marketing and public affairs consultant, a senior manager in communications, media and public relations at a large private company, and on the staffs of Governor Mike Johanns, Senator Chuck Hagel, and Attorney General Jon Bruning.
Salmi received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska in Kearney with majors in Political Science and Public Relations.
The Nebraska Chamber looks forward to utilizing Salmi's many media, marketing and strategic planning skills in moving our organization forward.
The Nebraska Chamber will host its "An Evening with Legislative Leadership" event Tuesday, April 9, at the Embassy Suites in Lincoln.
The gathering will feature Unicameral leaders who oversee key issues of importance to Nebraska's business community.
A reception at 6 p.m. will be followed by the 7 p.m. dinner. Invited speakers are Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer; Revenue Committee Chair Lou Ann Linehan; Appropriations Committee Chair John Stinner; Education Committee Chair Mike Groene; and Transportation and Telecommunications Committee Chair Curt Friesen. All other state senators will be invited to attend.
Hear directly from these leaders at a critical time in the legislative session. Cost is $100 for State Chamber members and $135 for non-members.
For more information or to register, call 402-474-4422 or click here.
Applications are currently being accepted for the State Chamber's Leadership Nebraska program, which prepares individuals to play a larger role in their community and state.
Applications must be received no later than Friday, April 12.
Leadership Nebraska is beginning its twelfth year of developing informed leaders who seek a breadth of knowledge about Nebraska issues. The year-long program consists of six sessions, each of which lasts two days. The sessions cover a wide scope of topics, including economic development, health care, education, agriculture, and state government.
The application can be found at www.leadershipnebraska.com or by calling Roberta Pinkerton at 402-474-4422.
Several Nebraska businesses have been affected by the recent devastating flooding our state has experienced. Swollen rivers and quickly rising water have washed out roads and bridges, and triggered evacuations. Many homes and businesses have been inundated by water that flowed from nearby rivers.
If your business has been directly affected -- and you need guidance on what to do next -- help is available.
Please reach out to the U.S. Chamber Foundation's Disaster Help Desk at 1-888-My-Biz-Help (888-692-4943). Or visit https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/disaster-response-and-community-resilience/disaster-help-desk.
Earlier this week, on March 6, the Nebraska Legislature's Revenue Committee held its hearing on LB720, which would bring the first major overhaul of Nebraska’s business incentives in 14 years.
The ImagiNE Nebraska Act would replace the Nebraska Advantage Act of 2005 – the state’s primary economic development tool that has resulted in 850 business expansions, $13 billion in capital invested or committed, and roughly 100,000 new jobs statewide.
The Nebraska Advantage Act is set to expire at the end of next year, making LB720’s passage critical this session.
Testifying in support of LB720 on behalf of the State Chamber was Chad Denton, president of CFO Services in Omaha. Chad highlighted LB720’s proposed process improvements, saying the bill would increase the value of incentives to businesses by making simplifications, ensuring that businesses receive earned incentives sooner, and eliminating unnecessary audits.
Other highlights from the hearing included:
During the hearing, much of the focus from opponents was related to the bill’s cost, estimated to be around $29 million in Fiscal 2020-21, but projected to grow to more than $150 million as more projects ramp up under the program. LB720's main sponsor, Seward Senator Mark Kolterman, noted that over the years, costs related to Nebraska’s business incentive programs (LB775 and the Nebraska Advantage Act) have, on average, totaled an amount equal to roughly only 3% of the state’s annual budget. Other supporters told senators that allowing businesses keep more of the money they earn in exchange for new jobs and investment should not be viewed as costs, since such economic activity would not likely have occurred but for incentives.
In his concluding remarks, Senator Kolterman told his fellow Revenue Committee members that he has repeatedly supported efforts to reduce Nebraska’s property tax burden. “But we cannot grow our state by just reducing the property tax burden,” he said, adding that doing away with incentives would be like hanging up a “closed for business” sign.
Currently, 22 senators are cosponsoring the ImagiNE Nebraska Act.