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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts Announces 2019 Developing Youth Talent Initiative Grant Recipients

Media Contacts:  

Justin Pinkerman, Governor’s Office, 402-471-1967

Huston Pullen, Economic Development, 402-471-3769


Media Release:

Gov. Ricketts Announces 2019 Developing Youth Talent Initiative Grant Recipients


Gov. Ricketts (center) and DED Director Dave Rippe (far right) with Chris Roth

 (far left) of Reinke Manufacturing, Ward Jorgenson (center left) of Orthman

Manufacturing and Rebecca Shields (center right) of Vistabeam Internet.



LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and leadership from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) announced the three companies selected as the latest recipients of Nebraska’s Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI) grant.  DYTI grants support partnerships between the private sector and Nebraska public schools to inspire seventh- and eighth-grade students to explore careers in manufacturing, information technology (IT), and math or science related fields.


“Our Developing Youth Talent Initiative is introducing the next generation of students to career fields where great-paying opportunities continue to grow,” said Governor Ricketts. “The program helps connect kids with those opportunities, positioning Nebraska to retain more of the great people who have helped build the Good Life into the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family.”


Gov. Ricketts established DYTI in 2015, and DED administers the program on behalf of the State.  Since the program’s inception, 12 DYTI grants have been competitively awarded to 11 different companies.  Successful applicants come to the table with strong plans of action to spark interest, engagement, and career opportunity awareness among students in their regions.


This year’s three grant recipients are:


  • Orthman Manufacturing of Lexington.  Orthman, which accepted a $125,000 grant, plans to outfit mobile trailer “makerspaces” with manufacturing-related technologies and equipment.  These makerspaces will travel throughout school districts in a 10-county area of central Nebraska to educate at least 3,300 students on industry-related concepts.  As part of the project, local business professionals will also work with students on various projects intended to build mentoring relationships.


  • Vistabeam Inventive Wireless from Gering.  Vistabeam accepted a $103,000 DYTI award to re-outfit Gering Junior High School’s IT lab with new software and equipment.  The upgrades will provide a state-of-the art IT and STEM learning environment for at least 450 students in the first year.  Alongside guest speakers and field trips, Vistabeam will offer a week-long summer externship for a school teacher, offering hands-on experiences that will translate to new ideas and inspiration in the classroom.


  • Reinke Manufacturing of Deshler.  Reinke was also a DYTI recipient in 2018, and accepted an award of $22,000 this year.  Embarking on an entirely new project, the company intends to reach up to 850 students through its Exposing Kids to Career Opportunities (EKCO) program.  The program will feature an engaging manufacturing and STEM career curriculum, along with a mobile STEM trailer to serve as a laboratory.  The project will reach 10 schools in three southeast Nebraska counties.


To date, DED estimates that DYTI grants have already introduced 7,000 Nebraska students to the manufacturing, IT, and STEM fields across more than two dozen school districts.  Today’s grant recipients will add up to 4,600 students and another two dozen districts to that tally.


“Career choice is one of the most important decisions a young adult will face,” said DED Director Dave Rippe.  “We want to ensure that Nebraska youth who have not yet reached that stage will approach it with an awareness of the extremely rewarding opportunities awaiting them in the manufacturing and IT fields.  In doing so, we’re also supporting our overall mission to ensure Nebraska companies are equipped with the skilled workforce they need to succeed and thrive.” 


Watch video of today’s press conference by clicking here.