Agriculture, Incentives, Education Vital to Nebraska's Future

Agriculture, Incentives, Education Vital to Nebraska's Future

Governor Dave Heineman
Governor Dave Heineman

Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman's long-range goal is to provide the state's children a 21st-century, knowledge-based, technology-driven, free-market economy approach to education to be sure they're prepared for the economy in which they'll compete. And he wants to create opportunities in the state so they'll want to stay.

Educating children for the jobs of the future, combined with a package of economic development incentives called Nebraska Advantage, are already showing results, Governor Heineman said. Since Nebraska Advantage was created, Nebraska has seen more job creation, including some big names.

"Last year we recruited Yahoo! to our state - a high-technology company from California," he said. "One of the reasons we were able to do that is because of our work force, the great attitude of our people in this state. If you have the right incentives, the great work force, low energy costs, keep lowering taxes, control your spending but invest in education and economic development, you can make a difference," he said.

Yahoo!, an Internet search engine based in California, announced in October that they would locate a data center in LaVista and a customer care center in west Omaha in 2009.

Although Omaha and Lincoln may grow more quickly than other communities, it is important to create growth opportunities in every part of Nebraska. Making growth happen is a teamwork concept between the state and each community, he said.

"Our job is to create the opportunity; then it's the job of the community to take advantage of that," he said. Growth in communities depends on business leadership that wants to make a difference; it takes a community that has the right attitude - a "we can get it done" attitude. "You have to take advantage of economic incentives, have the right leadership and have to promote your community," he said. "If you believe in your community, you can make a difference."

Even though the big draws like Yahoo! make the headlines, agriculture and all the associated industry continues to be the foundation of the state's economy, he said. "We need agriculture to grow. Agriculture is still the number one industry in this state, so farming and ranching are part of this, too," he added.

"Agriculture is probably the most rapidly-changing industry that I know," he said. "They've been competing in this free-market global economy for years, and they're more efficient than ever before." The governor pointed to farming and ranching, but also to agribusiness, research and development, the ethanol industry and other technological developments in the ag industry as examples.

The governor leads agricultural trade missions to countries in many parts of the world, arranging sales of Nebraska's products. "We can make a difference as a state when we go on a trip to Germany, to China, Japan, Cuba, Taiwan," he said. Nebraska can make that difference by making contacts, supplying support and building a level of trust so companies in other countries know they are dealing with reputable Nebraska companies.

Just as agriculture continues a rapid pace of change, the governor believes the future of the entire state will be one of change and growth.

Looking out a decade or two, "I think you'll see an ever-expanding Nebraska, creating jobs we never dreamed about because of the rapid advances in technology," he said. Agriculture will continue to be the foundation of the state, he said, and the transportation industry will be increasingly important as the state's products are moved worldwide. The business, financial and insurance sector is going to continue to grow, as will the alternative energy sector, including ethanol, wind, solar and biodiesel.

"You're going to see a Nebraska that's thriving, that's creating the kind of jobs that will attract people from New York City as well as Los Angeles because they love our quality of life," he said. "With technology, you can locate anywhere in the world, and we're going to see more and more of that. We're going to be a leader in the Midwest and throughout America."