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Growing Nebraska's Innovation Economy


Location: Unknown

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:

We are fortunate in Nebraska to have one of the strongest economies in the country. Our unemployment rate is 4.2% while the national average is 9.1%; we are recognized nationally as a top state in which to do business; and we continue to grow and create jobs in our state. In order to continue our success, we must look at areas of our economy that we want to continue strengthening. One important key to the future of Nebraska's economy will rely on fostering an innovation economy. This is why we have an exciting new initiative for economic development in Nebraska -- The Talent and Innovation Initiative.

The Talent and Innovation Initiative is designed to advance business innovation and workforce recruitment efforts in Nebraska and to attract new, advanced companies to Nebraska. With this initiative, we will continue to foster job growth and create new job opportunities, particularly in high-tech, research-driven fields. It puts a laser-like focus on growing Nebraska's innovation economy and gives Nebraska one of the strongest public policy strategies in the nation to advance business recruitment and development.

I want to highlight several growing and innovative Nebraska companies and our highly successful business incentive program, the Nebraska Advantage. The Nebraska Advantage is a performance based incentive that rewards the creation of higher paying jobs. Our approach is straightforward. The more high-paying jobs that a business creates, the more incentives they receive. Our goal is to keep our young people and middle class families in Nebraska. As a result of the Nebraska Advantage, 269 companies plan to invest $5.9 billion in our economy and create more than 19,000 jobs.

One Nebraska business that embodies high-tech ingenuity is Hayneedle, Inc. Based in Omaha, this online company represents 220 specialty stores from which consumers can purchase items for their homes. Hayneedle is one of the new fully-integrated technology companies offering a 24/7 shopping experience and employs more than 400 people. It started in 2002 when founders Doug Nielsen, Mark Hasebroock, and Julie Mahloch acquired that sold only hammocks. It wasn't long before they saw a potential for reaching greater numbers of consumers with specialty products. They launched that focused more on home and outdoor living products. Then in 2009, was created and they have continued to be a Nebraska success story ever since.

Agile Sports in Lincoln is a high-tech company devoted to helping youth, high school, college and professional team coaches and their athletes perfect their strategies and performances in a wide range of competitive sports. Agile Sports employs 30 people and produces Hudl and Hudl Pro software that weaves video clips, audio feed and text so that every coach can break down film, analyze it and create reports from any computer. They also offer uniquely personalized strategies and solutions that a team can use to improve athletic performance. Their home office is in Lincoln's Haymarket District and is made up of marketers, designers and former athletes who share a love of sports and technology.

Two longtime Nebraska companies that continue to innovate, grow and offer new services are Allmand Brothers, Inc. in Holdrege and Cyclonaire in York. Allmand Brothers is a leading manufacturer of portable light towers, compact tractor loader backhoes, light stands, solar arrow boards and jobsite heaters. With approximately 200 employees, Allmand Brothers has expanded and adapted their line of light towers to stay current with the changing needs of other industries.

Cyclonaire is a recognized leader in the engineering and manufacturing of pneumatic conveying equipment, and provides concrete solutions for bulk material transfer applications, railcar unloading, locomotive track sanding systems, dust collection and aeration systems. This company employs 50 people and prides itself in keeping current with the ever changing rail transport industry. Although they have been around for nearly 50 years, they have remained competitive in today's marketplace with their state-of-the-art research and development facility.

The investments we are making in Nebraska's economic development are paying off. In addition to the Nebraska Advantage and our Talent and Innovation Initiative, we invested $25 million in Innovation Campus. Innovation Campus represents an important opportunity for the University of Nebraska to leverage their research and education strengths for the benefit of the innovation economy in Nebraska. The funding is being used to help complete the first building on Innovation Campus, and to attract additional private investment for the research facility devoted to food, fuel and water projects.

We continue to create initiatives that build a talented workforce, encourage entrepreneurship and have a positive impact on the economy of our state. We are moving Nebraska forward.

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