Chambers, Economic Developers: Workforce, economic infrastructure key in rebuilding with ARPA Funds
LINCOLN – Leaders of chambers and economic development organizations from across the state today outlined a joint proposal to quickly ramp up workforce initiatives, talent attraction, innovation and economic infrastructure through the COVID-19 recovery. The proposal was introduced to Appropriations Committee members at an October 5 interim hearing on use of Nebraska’s approximately $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.
Initiatives are organized around four key themes: workforce; business relief and growth; quality of place; and diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Although several initiatives are featured in this proposal, one common thread binds them together – workforce,” said Bryan Slone, NE Chamber president. “Everywhere we go across the state, lack of available talent is the #1 issue holding us back from full economic recovery.”
Key considerations ask Nebraska leaders to help:
“The name of the game right now in economic development, in communities of all sizes, is available workforce,” said Walker Zulkoski, President of the Nebraska Economic Developers Association. “By workforce, we don’t just mean more people, we mean people and all the infrastructure that supports them – housing, childcare, recreation, experiential learning and innovation capacity.”
The proposal complements economic development initiatives outlined in the Blueprint Nebraska statewide strategic plan, including attracting 43,000 18- to 34-year-olds to Nebraska by 2030, spurring construction of 40,000 housing units, and driving up annual income of every Nebraskan by $15,000 by stimulating innovation and tech-enabled careers and training.
Statements offered by partner organizations
Wendy Birdsall, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President
“The Lincoln Chamber has been very pleased to collaborate with chambers of commerce and economic developers from across the state in developing a comprehensive list of recommendations for transformative investments. We appreciate that this is a start of a conversation about how to spend significant funds from the American Rescue Plan, and we look forward to partnering with all parties who are interested in growing jobs and building our workforce.”
David G. Brown, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce President and CEO
“To sustain and expand Nebraska’s economy, targeted investment in Nebraska’s businesses and workers will not only provide immediate assistance to those impacted by the pandemic, but also make a significant and lasting difference in advancing Nebraska’s attractiveness as a place to live, work, play and compete.”
Jonathan Jank, Nebraska Chamber of Commerce Executives President and Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership President and CEO
“We’ve always known vibrant communities and great jobs attract new residents. Right now, quality of life is playing a greater role in families’ decisions to relocate – something Nebraska has in abundance. Our ARPA proposal will accelerate talent attraction in our area.”
Bryan Slone, NE Chamber President
“This ARPA proposal has big play potential to add to the 10-yard gains we’ve been making over the last decade. The strength of the proposal lies in how aligned a diverse group of business and community leaders can be on next steps to move our state and its residents forward.”