NEWS RELEASE: State leaders launch Blueprint Nebraska to drive new era of economic growth
May 11, 2018
A group of Nebraska leaders representing business, agriculture, government and higher education announced today the formation of Blueprint Nebraska, a statewide coalition that will develop a plan for economic growth, competitiveness and prosperity as Nebraska looks to its next 150 years and beyond.
Blueprint Nebraska Co-Chairs Lance Fritz, Chairman, President and CEO of Union Pacific Corp. in Omaha, and Owen Palm, President and CEO of 21st Century Holdings in Scottsbluff, were joined by Gov. Pete Ricketts, University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds and Chamber of Commerce leadership in unveiling Blueprint Nebraska.
Together, they have appointed a broadly representative group of business leaders to a Blueprint Nebraska Steering Committee that will oversee an analysis of 15 areas key to Nebraska’s long-term economic success and quality of life, including: agriculture, healthcare, education attainment, workforce, taxation and incentives, housing, community vitality and technology and innovation. The coalition will then develop an action plan based on extensive research and results of a statewide road tour this fall that will engage Nebraskans in charting a plan for growth.
“Building the railroad across the state in the 1860s inextricably linked Union Pacific and Nebraska. Blueprint Nebraska’s vision is to gather the best thoughts of Nebraskans across the state to forge a future that continues to make us strong for decades to come,” Fritz said. “Nebraska’s business community has a duty to help bring out the best in our state, and Blueprint Nebraska’s vision is to engage all Nebraskans in a process to collectively determine what our state’s future should be.”
Palm said: “The longer I’ve lived in Nebraska, the more I’ve realized this state has some systemic challenges that a comprehensive plan like Blueprint Nebraska can address. 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 strengths and not waste time and money pursuing opportunities that don’t play to our strengths. The outcome will be a master plan that encompasses the entire state.”
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 on the road tour, to be hosted together with local chamber and community leadership, will be forthcoming.
Bounds, who seeded a similar effort in his native Mississippi, noted that the University of Nebraska, together with other higher education colleagues, will play a vital role in providing the research and future workforce necessary for Blueprint Nebraska’s success.
“We’re at a defining moment in Nebraska’s history, where we need to decide together what kind of future we want for our children and grandchildren,” 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 then build a plan to get there.”
Governor Ricketts, who has designated growing Nebraska as the vision for his administration, congratulated the Blueprint Nebraska steering committee on their launch.
“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,” Governor Ricketts said. “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, an Omaha attorney who just assumed his role as president of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “We want to make Nebraska the very best place in the nation to live, work and raise a family. Especially at a time when we face persistent challenges like workforce shortages, moderate growth isn’t going to cut it if we want Nebraska to truly prosper. Blueprint Nebraska will help drive a new era of growth for our state. Statewide chamber leadership is proud to endorse this collaborative and visionary effort.”
Blueprint Nebraska members will continue to meet regularly as they plan the road tour and form “industry councils,” made up of business leaders and subject-matter experts, to analyze Nebraska’s strengths and challenges and recommend action steps. The coalition also will develop a process to identify Nebraska’s competitor states in order to have a complete and up-to-date understanding of Nebraska’s position in its market.
An initial report summarizing the research and action plan will follow, to be continually evolved based on citizen input and emerging opportunities for Nebraska.
The committee also is developing a fundraising plan that will seek philanthropic support for Blueprint Nebraska efforts.