By Governor Pete Ricketts
February 27, 2017
The Governor’s official photo is available here.
Broken Bow is nestled in the foothills of Nebraska’s picturesque Sandhills in the middle of everything – our state and our country. In many ways, it’s a community that represents a cross section of the Cornhusker State. It’s a rural town where Main Street is thriving thanks to the state’s largest industries: agriculture and manufacturing. Employers ranging from feedlots to a major medical supplier provide good-paying jobs for families in Broken Bow and the surrounding area. They’ve opened a new hotel, new restaurants, and a new judicial center in the last few years. It’s a shining example of a community on the move. None of this happened by accident. It happened because people are engaged in their community, local schools, and churches. The citizens of Broken Bow rolled up their sleeves and worked together to grow their community.
Understanding Broken Bow’s success can help us understand Nebraska, and why our state has become the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family the past 150 years. March 1, 2017 marks the 150th anniversary, or sesquicentennial, of President Andrew Johnson signing the presidential proclamation declaring Nebraska’s statehood. This week, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate the work of generations of Nebraskans not only in Broken Bow but in every community across our state. Their persistence and hard work are what have made Nebraska the Good Life for 150 years.
From the early days when Native Americans roamed the plains in search of buffalo and pioneers broke the prairie sod to build shelter, Nebraska has long been a land of abundance and great opportunity. In recent years, the innovative work of many Nebraskans has led to exciting economic success. In 2015, Nebraska reached a historic job creation level with 1 million non-farm jobs. This is due in part to one of the highest labor force participation rates in the nation. Our population has also flourished. Last year, Nebraska’s population growth reached a record 1.9 million for the first time, outpacing national trends.
Nebraska’s top three industries–agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism–have been key to growing our state. In the area of agriculture, Nebraska has been leading in the areas of value-added agriculture, biotechnology, and food processing. Nebraska’s manufacturers export equipment worldwide, and are helping producers feed the world with cutting edge ag and irrigation technology. While we may not have mountains or oceans, Nebraska has worked tirelessly to develop other tourism opportunities with one of the top zoos in the world, agritourism attractions, and wine and craft brewery industries.
This work has resulted in national recognition. Forbes magazine ranks Nebraska the third best state in the nation for business in part because we have the best regulatory climate. Our business-friendly environment has attracted entrepreneurs, who have helped create “Silicon Prairie,” the Midwest hub for tech startups. Nebraska is not only a great state for business, but also for families. Just recently, the American Conservative Union ranked Nebraska fourth best in the nation in their Family Prosperity Index, which measures several economic and social health indicators.
My wife Susanne, along with a group of dedicated Nebraskans, have been working hard planning events and initiatives to help the entire state celebrate the sesquicentennial birthday throughout the year. In addition to activities at the State Capitol on Statehood Day, several other programs are underway. The Nebraska 150 Challenge is encouraging Nebraskans to do 150 miles of physical activity throughout 2017. The Nebraska Impact Initiative is building teams to volunteer for causes around the state. One of my personal favorites is Now You Know Nebraska, a series of video shorts designed to help students learn more about our state’s rich history.
For full details on these initiatives and much more, please visit www.ne150.org. I hope you will join in the celebration and choose one or two events and activities in which to participate. Let’s keep the celebration going all year long! If you have any questions about the 150th anniversary celebration or any other matter, you are always welcome to contact my office by emailing email@example.com or by calling 402-471-2244. Happy birthday, Nebraska!