Ricketts Lays Out Growth Strategies as State Hits Jobs Milestone

Source: By Nebraska Ag Connection • Posted: Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Governor Pete Ricketts, the Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL), and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) announced Nebraska’s non-farm job count averaged 1 million in 2015 for the first time ever. At a news conference Tuesday morning, the Governor and state agency directors were joined by business leaders to highlight the milestone, and lay out key principles and strategies for continued economic growth.

“Nebraska’s diverse group of industries helped drive this historic employment level in our state,” said Governor Pete Ricketts. “This didn’t happen overnight and it came through a lot of hard work and leadership from many across the state. As we continue to work together to grow Nebraska, my administration is focused on supporting the efforts of job creators by lowering the tax burden, controlling spending, and making government more customer-friendly so we can get government out of the way.”

At the news conference, Governor Ricketts noted that Nebraska had earned high marks for its business-friendly climate over the last year from respected organizations. These rankings include:

— 3rd Best State for Business (Forbes 2015)

— 7th America’s Top States for Business (CNBC 2015)

On July 12, Ricketts and DED will host the first annual Governor’s Summit on Economic Development. The summit will focus on a study by SRI International of the state’s existing economic development programs. Interested individuals can learn more about the upcoming summit here.

“Today’s great news about Nebraska’s jobs milestone is tremendously encouraging and a sign of excellent things to come for our quality workforce,” said DED Director Courtney Dentlinger. “As I travel around the state, it is encouraging for me to hear from the business community how changes in state government are helping them conduct business more smoothly and with greater ease. I look forward to working with Governor Ricketts to build on these successes, and work to develop new, data-driven economic development strategies.”

The Governor, agency directors, and business leaders at the news conference highlighted several initiatives from the first year of the Governor’s administration aimed at making government more customer and business-friendly. These initiatives include:

Trade Missions — Governor Ricketts has led two overseas trade missions, one to the European Union and one to Asia. Representatives from Nebraska businesses joined these trade missions. In November, the Governor will be leading a trade mission to China.

Online Permitting — The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality launched online permitting for a number of environmental quality permits used by businesses. The agency has reduced the amount of time it takes to deliver certain permits from months and weeks to a single day.

Regulatory Pushback — The Governor has been an outspoken advocate for Nebraska’s job creators and taxpayers on a variety of regulatory issues that pose a threat to our state’s top industries. The Governor has led efforts to push back on the Obama Administration’s attempts to implement the Waters of the U.S. rule, roll out the Clean Power Plan, and cut the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Infrastructure & Roads — This year, the Governor championed the Transportation Innovation Act, which was hailed as historic and a “big win” by a Nebraska business leader. This new infusion of funding to accelerate express construction moved Nebraska’s roads funding above previous historic highs.

The Governor and other news conference attendees highlighted key principles and strategies for encouraging continued job creation and economic growth in the coming years. Highlights include:

Spending Control — To get tax relief, the state must continue to control spending at the state and local level. This past year, the Governor worked with the Legislature to hold the rate of growth in state spending to 3.6 percent, or about half of the last biennium.

Tax Relief — Nebraska is a high tax state, and must continue to work towards providing additional property and income tax relief in the coming years. The Tax Foundation ranks Nebraska 26th highest for income tax and 12th highest for property tax.

Value-Added Ag — Even as commodity prices have dropped, we can help our young producers build a diverse operation. From advocating for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard to encouraging investments like Costco’s chicken plant, Nebraska must continue to advocate for value-added agriculture opportunities.

Reemployment Plan — Last year, the Governor and NDOL announced the transformation of Nebraska’s unemployment program into a reemployment program to help jobseekers reenter the workforce more quickly and employers identify talent.