Nov 02 2019

Growing All of Nebraska

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The ability to identify where our city and state are headed in the near future is not an easy thing to predict. However, we know that workforce development and talent attraction will play key roles in shaping our economy and way of life in the years to come.

With the 2020 Nebraska Legislative Session beginning in just over two months, one focus of these workforce efforts will be on attracting young people to Nebraska to keep 'The Good Life' growing.

So, how do we get young people here and retain them?

The ability to provide opportunities will be paramount to success. As Bryan Slone, president of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, laid out recently at our State Legislative Forum Breakfast on October 23, population growth is key as we develop a young workforce.

This is one of the key components of the Blueprint Nebraska report, which was released in July 2019. The 15 signature initiatives laid out in the report highlight the need for Nebraska to leverage its people, land and location to create sustainable and long-term economic growth. Some of the biggest aspirations include creating 25,000 jobs statewide, making Nebraska a top-three state in which to live and bringing 43,000 new 18-to 34-year old residents to the state.

Jim Smith, executive director of Blueprint Nebraska, reiterated the importance of the 18-to 34-year old population.

"We need to give this age group every reason to stay in their communities and show them that opportunities exist to start a life and succeed here in Nebraska," Smith said. "For those folks who haven't had a chance to experience the good life of Nebraska, we need to build a case for them as well."

One area that Smith emphasized in his presentation was Nebraska's need for inclusivity in our communities and workplaces. The Lincoln Chamber and Lincoln Young Professionals Group are established leaders and champions on workplace diversity and inclusion and continue to place diversity and inclusion as imperative to our workforce development. We know that principles of equality, fairness and merit are deeply held values by Lincoln business leaders. Lincoln is an inclusive and welcoming place.

Nebraska's startup density has improved over the years but still sits at number 39 among all states. To accomplish the goals of Blueprint, there will need to be continued improvement in this area. Ways to do this include increased research and development, apprenticeship and career-based scholarship programs. The report identifies these areas as avenues to drive startup growth in Nebraska.

There are many ways in which we are ahead of the game when it comes to developing and promoting Nebraska, but as the Blueprint Report's findings describe, much work needs to be done. We are more than ready for the challenge.