LINCOLN — Blueprint Nebraska has released a report and plan to add 25,000 jobs to the state while adding $15,000 to the annual income of every resident by 2030.
The organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, it is a state wide collation of leaders representing agriculture, and business interests large and small to develop a long range plan for economic growth, competitiveness and prosperity for Nebraska for the long term future.
After gathering feedback from across the state last year, Blueprint Nebraska has come up with a plan aimed at increasing Nebraska economic fortunes and ensuring the state remains successful and competitive into the future.
Feedback came from more than 60 events with 2,000 participants across 30 regions of the state with community surveys of some 5,000 local respondents.
The economic context of Nebraska was laid out in the report, the state’s unemployment rate is 2.9 percent, tied for the ninth lowest. The state also has one of the highest labor market participation rates, 69.6 percent.
Agriculture is the main industry in the state, 91 percent of the land is dedicated to farming, 45.2 million acres, with 23 million acres being pastureland. Nebraska is the second largest producer of hay, pinto beans and ethanol. The state also leads the U.S. in beef exports, which totaled $1.26 billion.
The report then laid out several challenges the state faces going into the future. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM, expertise is seen as an indicator of future economic success. Nebraska graduates involved in STEM programs were low, 36th in the nation, the state also ranked 35th for new entrepreneurs.
Another looming issue is the difficulty in retraining and attracting young people to the state. Nebraska recorded one of the lowest growth rates, 0.5 percent, for the population of 25-29 year olds during 2013-2018, in 2018 alone the state lost 3,330 residents to other states.
According to the report, “Nebraska is losing people in the war for talent to other states.”
Several aspirations for 2030 were stated in the report which includes, leading peer states in overall job growth, increasing quality of life, building the population of 18-34 year olds, increase income growth and be a leader in research and development.
Four growth themes were, powering the economy with people, reimaging and connecting rural and metropolitan areas, building a simpler, more efficient and effective government and growing the state’s most promising industry.
“In more concrete terms, by 2030, these initiatives will create 25,000 jobs and add $15,000 to the annual income of every Nebraskan. The initiatives will make Nebraska a top three state in which to live and bring 43,000 new 18-34 year-old residents to the state. The initiatives will secure additional annual investment in research and development of $200 million,” the reported stated.
These initiatives have been spelled out, to attract people some of the plans are to revolutionize all education segments from early childhood to career, promote diversity and inclusion to retrain and attract talent and deliver internship, apprentice and other customized workforce solutions.
Other ideas are aimed at improving quality of life, these include, increase rural broadband access, expand transportation connectivity, build additional 30,000 to 50,000 achievable, livable housing units, and rejuvenate communities, town centers and meeting places through targeted investments.
Changes to government include, realigning the state’s tax strategy to promote economic growth, reimage government services by improving business climate and citizen experience and optimizing Nebraska’s incentives strategy.
To improve the state’s sectors, the report proposes, expanding and improving the productivity of the agri-business cluster, gather tech founders in sectors linked to the state’s core industries, create multi-partner manufacturing innovation centers and develop financial-tech, banking and insure-tech partnerships.
Blueprint Nebraska plans to sequence the rollout of their initiatives in three waves, starting in the fourth quarter of 2019 and launch around five initiatives per quarter.
“To make our 2030 vision, aspirations, growth themes and initiatives a reality, we need dedicated teams and detailed implementation plans. We need Nebraska’s government, educational, business and community leaders committed to, and enthusiastic about, implementing the initiatives outlined in this blueprint to provide the necessary governance and process for successful execution,” the report said.
In conclusion, the report said, “Everyone at Blueprint Nebraska is committed to achieving our vision and our aspirations. We recognize how lofty our goals are, and we know that dedication and collaboration will be critical. Together, we can build an even greater Nebraska.”