“All over the state, there’s a lot of excitement” said Bryan Slone, President of the Nebraska Chamber Of Commerce and Industry, as he laid out the organization’s plans for 2020 before the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.
“Local leadership makes the difference” he told the audience of Capital City Business leaders.
Slone has been all over the State, delivering the message that it’s time to speed up economic development in order to reach Nebraska’s full potential. His agenda includes Property, Income and Sales Tax reform, an updated school funding formula, renewed statewide economic development incentives, prison reform, and completing Medicaid expansion. Many more details are contained in the published and widely distributed findings and suggested initiatives of Blueprint Nebraska, a group dedicated to Economic Development.
“Nebraska can be one of the top 10 fastest growing States in the nation” he said, adding that we need to strengthen the state’s young workforce. “Nebraska has a quality of life, natural resources, and industries that are needed right now.”
The challenge, he said, is “How do you get the State together around bigger, bolder ideas?”
Former State Senator Jim Smith, the head of Blueprint Nebraska, said the state needs to hold on to its 18-34 workforce, calling it “the lifeblood of our economy.” He added that other states are competing for it.
Three State Senators appeared before the Chamber gathering, adding their support to the message.
27th District Senator Anna Wishart of Lincoln said she agrees with every one of the Blueprint Nebraska suggestions, adding we “need to get aggressive.” She said her activity in the next session would center around Youth Attraction, making the State more attractive to a young adult workforce, prison reform and the mental health treatment that is provided in the prison system, and supporting a package of Business Incentives.
25th District Senator Suzanne Geist said she has been taking “deeper dives” into the industries and institutions of her District, trying to understand them and find ways to help them succeed. She also said she would support measures to improve the Correctional System and its shortage of mental health treatment.
Senator Kate Bolz, who is facing her eighth and final year in the Unicameral as she campaigns for the First District seat in Congress, said her priorities will center around the State Budget and the activities of the Legislature’s Economic Development Task Force.
Bolz said finishing the Emergency Management funding issues left over from the March floods, improving provider reimbursement rates for Health Care, making sure Medicaid Expansion is completed in accord with voters wishes, and achieving a balance between Property Tax relief and the balance in the State’s Cash Reserve are among the most pressing financial issues.
Under the category of Economic Development, she said completing a package of tax incentives would be important, but not the only issue. She added that the State needs to invest more in helping fund apprenticeships and career based scholarships, and help make child care more widely and readily available .