LINCOLN, Neb. – Governor Pete Ricketts hosted more than 400 Nebraska community, education, and business leaders last week at the Second Annual Governor’s Summit on Economic Development to learn about unique opportunities and challenges facing Nebraska’s economy. The one-of-a-kind forum encourages business executives, trade practitioners, elected officials, and community leaders to work collaboratively on strategies to grow Nebraska.
Today’s event focused on efforts to build Nebraska’s housing, transportation infrastructure, workforce development, and international trade opportunities. Seminars also expanded on research unveiled at the Governor’s inaugural summit in 2016 that focused on innovative programming and legislation designed to grow and attract companies and skilled labor.
“This event has become a premiere forum for our state’s business leaders and industries to talk about future opportunities and challenges for growing Nebraska,” said Governor Ricketts. “Whether it’s expanding workforce housing in our communities or reducing business transportation costs through enhanced supply chain management, new strategies shared at today’s summit will help support the ones our grow Nebraska team is already deploying.”
The summit’s keynote speaker, Lindsey Woolsey, is President and principal consultant of The Woolsey Group, and co-founder of a national model of Next Gen Sector Partnerships. Ms. Woolsey’s Washington-based firm specializes in research, technical assistance, and the facilitation of industry partnership development. She is a national expert in the field of industry sector strategies, and is leading a coalition between Nebraska’s Departments of Economic Development, Education, and Labor to seed the development of industry sector partnerships in Nebraska.
“The Governor’s Summit on Economic Development provided a platform for the expansion of industry sectors in Nebraska,” said Woolsey. “Today, business leaders heard about Next Generation Sector Partnerships from all over the country that are growing businesses, providing jobs, and connecting people to them. There’s real potential, and efforts underway, to replicate these partnerships here in Nebraska.”
Richard Langer, one of today’s featured speakers, has extensive experience as a global supply chain, transportation, and trade system designer for Fortune 500 companies and the Federal Government. Mr. Langer is the President and Managing Director of Quètica, a transportation, supply chain and global trade information technology consulting firm. He is a retired senior military officer with various career assignments designing and managing expeditionary supply chains and transportation networks. He also spearheaded efforts to adapt supply chain network optimization for public freight networks, which led to lower transportation costs for local businesses. Quetica is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB).
“Ongoing developments in transportation are at the forefront of a company’s ability to manage an evolving supply chain, and Nebraska’s logistics infrastructure can be a wonderful tool to help attract new business to this state,” Langer said. “Growing efficiencies in transportation benefits both the public and private sectors.”
DED Director Courtney Dentlinger and Department of Transportation Director Kyle Schneweis joined former Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Barry, to speak about the opportunity to deliver a 21st century transportation system in Nebraska.
“Building a strong, modern infrastructure is essential when it comes to growing new opportunities for businesses across Nebraska,” Director Dentlinger said. ”The Departments of Economic Development and Transportation are working together in our efforts to expand Nebraska’s transportation system, with a focus on key industry clusters.”
The 2017 summit also featured a panel discussion with statewide community leaders who specialize in workforce housing strategies. Over the past several years, limited housing availability across Nebraska has necessitated creative solutions to grow housing stock. Local leadership and public-private partnerships are key factors to success for building Nebraska’s housing market.
Cliff Mesner, who served on today’s housing panel, spearheaded efforts in subdivision development, affordable and market rate housing, and a workforce housing initiative pilot program in Central City.
“Partnerships between local, state, and federal organizations paved the way for a housing initiative in Schuyler, which in turn led to the completion of several housing developments,” Mesner said. “Having an opportunity to share our story today led to an open discussion on innovative ways to continue growing Nebraska communities with quality housing.”
Following today’s summit, Nebraska business leaders honored two statewide economic development organizations for their commitment to grow Nebraska. In 2017, the Nebraska Diplomats and the Department of Economic Development are celebrating 50 years of service in Nebraska.