As newly-elected Governor Pete Ricketts took office in January 2015, a new journey in economic growth and development was charted in the State of Nebraska. In his State of the State Address, Governor Ricketts outlined areas of focus, including creating jobs, implementing a career and vocational training program, encouraging small business growth and expansion, creating a new plan for attracting business investment and relocations, and strategically approaching new and expanding world trade opportunities.
Targeted industries that continue to support and sustain Nebraska’s growing and thriving economy include Software and Technology, BioSolutions, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics, Manufacturing, and Research and Development and Engineering.
Graepel North America cut the ribbon on a new 45,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Sarpy County in March 2015, where 30 specialists manufacture products for companies including John Deere, Claas, Caterpillar, Kenworth, Peterbilt and Freightliner. Graepel opened its first North American facility in Sarpy County in 2006.
To spur new business development, job creation and angel investment, Nebraska received an installment of more than $4.47 million from the U.S. Treasury Department’s State Small Business Credit Initiative in March 2015. The Nebraska Department of Economic Development administers funds through its Nebraska Progress Loan Fund and Nebraska Progress Seed Fund.
A mid-April announcement was made that the state’s largest electric utility, Nebraska Public Power District, collaborated with Monolith Materials to build a new manufacturing facility devoted to producing a clean-burning hydrogen fuel byproduct as part of its carbon black production process.
Also in April 2015, Hudl, a Lincoln-based sports video software firm, announced a large-scale expansion that involves building a new world headquarters facility and adding up to 300 high-tech jobs. The projected payroll and investment was estimated to create $140 million in annual economic activity. Founded in 2006 by three University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduates, the company currently employs 150 full-time “Hudlies” in Lincoln and Omaha, Boston, London, and remotely in Texas, California and New York.
The first international company to occupy space at Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln, Suji’s Cuisine USA, opened in mid-April 2015. The company formulates, produces and delivers market-ready Korean bulgogi products, savory beef and spicy pork, along with corresponding market-ready sauces throughout the U.S.
In June 2015, the Governor made the first of what he indicated would be many international trade missions to introduce Nebraska’s value-added food products and capabilities in the bioscience, manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries to companies in Italy, Belgium and Denmark.
Also in June 2015, the Travelers Companies cut the ribbon on its new 183,000 sq. ft. Tier III 4MW data center located on a 41-acre parcel, leaving 92 acres for potential development. The company joins a number of leading data centers in the area, including Fidelity Investments, Yahoo!, and Cabela’s – all in Sarpy County – and Cosentry data centers in Omaha and Papillion.
Two other projects were announced in June 2015. Great West—Teeuwissen, LLC, d/b/a York Cold Storage I, LLC, in York received business expansion assistance to expand its operations and add 10 full-time jobs. Nebraska Hop Yards, LLC, announced it would create Nebraska’s first commercial-scale production and processing facility, as well as plant the state’s largest hop yards. The company is investing more than $3.5 million and creating as many as 20 full-time jobs.
In August 2015, long-time manufacturer, Neapco Components in Beatrice, cut the ribbon on a $1.6 million, 13,200 sq. ft. facility and test lab that employs 65 people. Neapco has called Beatrice home for more than 35 years.
A U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development traveled to the state in September 2015 to announce that the Economic Development Administration had awarded $750,000 to the UNL Board of Regents to create a biotechnology connector program that links the University of Nebraska, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, and Invest Nebraska (a private nonprofit corporation focused on starting up high-growth companies in Nebraska) with the private sector’s Bio Nebraska program. The program is projected to serve eight startup biotechnology companies yearly during the next nine years.
Governor Ricketts made good on his promise to promote and grow careers in the manufacturing and technology sectors by announcing the Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative in September 2015. The first two grant recipients for the Initiative were Flowserve Corporation of Hastings and Hollman Media in Kearney. The initiative fosters partnerships between private industry and public schools that engage in hands-on career exploration and relevant workplace learning for students in 7th and 8th grade.
The Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s International Market Access Grant program also recently received $300,570 from the Small Business Administration’s State Trade and Export Promotion program to boost export opportunities for small businesses through several venues in November 2015.
Related to being a great place for businesses to locate new facilities or expand existing operations, Nebraska has earned accolades from a number of premier organizations and magazines tracking this kind of data for companies globally.
Nebraska continues to rank as one of America’s ten most business-friendly states—second behind Utah—in 2015 by Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc., a national leader in corporate site selection. This marks the seventh year in a row that the state has been recognized as one of the top pro-businesses states in what is considered one of the most, comprehensive study of its kind conducted by Pollina. According to the report, Nebraska serves as the “best example of the year” for its well-rounded strategy of workforce, taxes, infrastructure, and economic development that allows companies to prosper.
The state also has earned considerable high rankings from a number of magazines and online news outlets. Forbes magazine rates Nebraska as the (3rd) “Best State for Business in 2015,” CNBC named Nebraska as “America’s (4th) Top State for Business, and “America’s (8th) Top State for Quality of Life” in 2014, and MoneyRates.com cited Nebraska as 10th of “Best States to Make a Living” in 2014 among many other rankings.
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