LINCOLN – On May 11, leaders in Nebraska business, agriculture, government and higher education launched “Blueprint Nebraska,” a citizen-led, statewide economic development initiative. The effort seeks to establish a comprehensive and pro-active plan to stimulate the state’s economic growth, competitiveness and prosperity, while building on its many strengths.
Lance Fritz, the chairman, president and CEO of Union Pacific Corp. in Omaha, and Owen Palm, the president and CEO of 21st Century Holdings in Scottsbluff, are co-chairs of Blueprint Nebraska. Joining them at Friday’s announcement were Governor Pete Ricketts, University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds, and representatives of the chamber of commerce community.
“We have the best place in the world because of our people and this Blueprint Nebraska effort will help pull together our people to be able to take our state to the next level,” Governor Ricketts said on Friday.
In the early stages of Blueprint Nebraska, a steering committee – comprised of a broad coalition of leaders from the private sector – will oversee the analysis of 15 areas that are vital to Nebraska’s long-term economic success and quality of life. These include manufacturing; agriculture; health care; education; workforce; taxation and incentives; housing; community vitality; and technology and innovation.
Adams Land & Cattle, LLC (located in Broken Bow) CEO Jerry Adams serves on the steering committee.
The initiative will utilize “industry councils” made up of Nebraskans from across the state to help analyze current strengths and challenges. The coalition will also develop a process to identify Nebraska’s competitor states.
An initial report summarizing the research and a detailed action plan will follow. The plan will be continually revised based on new analysis, citizen input and emerging opportunities for Nebraska.
Fritz said, “Nebraska’s business community has a duty to help bring out the best in our state. Blueprint Nebraska’s vision is to engage all Nebraskans in a process to collectively determine what our state’s future should be.”
Palm said, “I see this as an honest and intense assessment of our state’s strengths and weaknesses. We’re going to identify economic development opportunities based on those advantages and not waste time and money pursuing opportunities that don’t play to our strengths.”
Palm and Fritz urged Nebraskans to begin thinking about their ideas for the state’s future in preparation for the road tour, which will include stops in about 30 communities and an electronic survey for citizens unable to participate in person. Details regarding the road tour, which will be hosted with local chambers and community leadership, will be forthcoming.
Governor Ricketts, who has designated growing Nebraska as the vision for his administration, congratulated the Blueprint Nebraska (click here for flier) steering committee on their launch, saying: “Over the last few years, Nebraska has achieved tremendous growth benchmarks. From leading the nation in economic development to reopening international markets for our quality ag products, we have a lot to celebrate. It’s great to see Nebraskans teaming up to bring ideas to the table to help take us to the next level, and I look forward to working with this group as we continue to grow Nebraska.”
Bryan Slone, the new president of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The business community wants to continue to make Nebraska the very best place in the nation to live, work and raise a family. Looking forward, we face new competitive challenges in continuing to grow our state. Blueprint Nebraska has the potential to be a landmark statewide collaboration to help drive a new era of growth throughout our state. The State Chamber is proud to support this collaborative and visionary effort.”
NU’s Hank Bounds said, “I’m thrilled to work alongside Nebraska’s business leaders, policymakers and all citizens on a path forward for our state. We’re going to decide what great looks like and build a plan to get there.”