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Growing opportunities for the good life
FROM THE GOVERNOR

Growing opportunities for the good life

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America is known as the Land of Opportunity and nowhere is that more true than here in Nebraska.

Even as we grapple with the challenge of the pandemic, we’ve been hard at work to create and attract great-paying jobs to the Good Life. These jobs help families send their kids to school, own their own home and car, or go on that family vacation. They make it appealing for young Nebraskans to stay in our state after graduation. These jobs also provide the dignity and enjoyment of rewarding work.

As we continue to return to a more normal life, businesses are creating great-paying jobs here in the Good Life. Last week, I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Scoular’s new Petsource facility in Seward. It’s a great example of how value-added agriculture is growing Nebraska. The $50-million facility is bringing about 100 jobs to Seward, and it will be sourced with Nebraska beef. So it’s not only creating great job opportunities in manufacturing, but also increasing opportunities for our livestock producers.

Last month, I joined the groundbreaking for Vireo, a company investing in Plattsmouth to produce an immune support supplement. The project is projected to bring $15 million of investment in Nebraska and will bring up to 200 new jobs to the area. It’s one of the largest investments in the Plattsmouth area in recent memory and great news for Cass County.

These are just a couple of recent examples of jobs being created across the state as we get Nebraska growing. Throughout my administration, we’ve been focused on creating a climate favorable to job growth, and we’re maintaining that focus as pandemic restrictions loosen. Our state routinely ranks atop lists of the best states in America for business. We’re...

1. least state debt (Moody’s), labor force participation, and employment-to population ratio (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

2. best regulatory environment (Forbes), lowest unemployment (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

3. most new economic development projects per capita (Site Selection)

4. children’s economic well-being (Casey Foundation)

5. lowest costs of doing business (CNBC) and most diverse economy (Bloomberg)

These strong rankings demonstrate that Nebraska is a great place for growth. Even so, no company invests in a generic place called Nebraska. They choose to do business with specific leaders whom they respect and trust. And they select communities where they’ve experienced friendliness and hospitality. From Seward to Sidney and everywhere in between, Nebraska has hundreds of welcoming, well-led communities that are experiencing growth.

In my time in office, we’ve built on four pillars to grow Nebraska: 1) developing our people, 2) being easy to do business with, 3) controlling spending to deliver tax relief, and 4) promoting Nebraska domestically and internationally. This four-part strategy has been very successful.

According to the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nebraska has the second-lowest unemployment in the country at 4.8%. Our metro areas in Lincoln, Omaha, and Sioux City are all outperforming regional peers in providing employment. Each has an unemployment rate under 6%, which is significantly lower than in other Midwestern cities: Kansas City (7.6%), Denver (7.8%), Minneapolis (8.2%), and Chicago (12.0%).

Nebraska ranks number one in the nation in employment rate among adults (ages 16 and older). We’re the only state where more than two-thirds of adults are actively working. Compared to the 67% of adults employed in Nebraska, only 52% of adults work in Arkansas and in New York.

While we’re doing comparatively well, there are still many Nebraskans who have lost work or seen their business, farm, or ranch endure financial hardship. The State put $85 million of the federal assistance we received from the Coronavirus Relief Fund into critical services such as food security, shelter, and behavioral health care. We allocated $330 million of additional funds to help businesses and livestock producers impacted by the pandemic. We also shored up our Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to ensure our ability to provide benefits to Nebraskans who are out of work.

Last week, the Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) announced that the State is applying for Lost Wage Assistance Funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This will allow NDOL to pay an additional $300 in weekly unemployment benefits to Nebraskans whose livelihood has been affected by the coronavirus. Qualified claimants will receive the benefits for the weeks ending Aug. 1st, Aug. 8th, and Aug. 15th.

NDOL’s job centers are open to anyone, whether unemployed, underemployed, or simply looking to take the next career step. State teammates stand ready to connect Nebraskans to tens of thousands of employment openings. For more information about services available through the job centers, visit dol.nebraska.gov and NEworks.nebraska.gov. Additionally, NDOL partners with the Department of Health and Human Services to offer innovative reemployment services to Nebraskans who rely on food stamps. The program, SNAP Next Step, provides families with services such as writing a resume, preparing for interviews, and gaining job skills. On average, participants who complete SNAP Next Step increase their income by about $1,700 a month or over $20,000 per year! To sign up for SNAP Next Step, visit the program’s website at dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/SNAP-Next-Step.aspx.

If you have questions about our strategy to create great jobs and grow the Good Life, please email pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call 402-471-2244. We’re tirelessly working to get Nebraska growing for the benefit of our families, graduates, and future generations.

Pete Ricketts is the governor of Nebraska.

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