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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Growing the Good Life

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This week, economic development leaders and entrepreneurs from across the state will come together for the Second Annual Governor’s Summit on Economic Development.  Last year, we launched this event to provide a forum for our state’s industries and business leaders to talk about future opportunities and challenges for growing Nebraska.  This year, we’ll be celebrating recent successes and talking about future opportunities to grow Nebraska through trade, transportation, and regulatory reform.

Before and after the summit, I will be visiting some of the 101 investments that helped Nebraska win the 2016 Governor’s Cup for the most economic development projects per capita in the country.  Many factors and numerous people played a role in this win.  Our business-friendly regulatory environment, high labor force participation rate, quality workforce, competitive power rates, and highly-rated infrastructure combine to create an attractive environment for job creators and entrepreneurs.  To celebrate this big win for Nebraska, I will visit businesses in Adams, Lincoln, Snyder, West Point, Falls City, Endicott, Kearney, and McCook.

So far in 2017, we’ve seen a lot of new growth.  In fact, we’ve seen over $1 billion in new investments or expansions in the last few months.  In April, Facebook announced they would be building their ninth data center in the world in Papillion, and Cargill cut the ribbon on a new $111 million cooked meats plant in Columbus.  In May, Novozymes announced a $36 million expansion to their biofuels plant in Blair, and Becton Dickinson announced a $60 million investment in Columbus on top of a $100 million investment in Holdrege last fall.  And in June, Costco broke ground on their first chicken processing plant near Fremont.  This project alone will have an economic impact equivalent to approximately one percent of Nebraska’s gross domestic product!

While Nebraska has had much success in building a business-friendly climate, we must always look for opportunities to continuously improve.  Last week, I signed an executive order launching a comprehensive review of state regulations aimed at cutting unnecessary red tape to make state government more effective, more efficient, and more customer-focused.  Right now, Nebraska has 7.5 million words of regulation including more than 100,000 restrictive words.  While a recent analysis by the Mercatus Center shows that Nebraska is doing a good job at controlling regulation relative to other states, it is important that we must always be looking for new ways to improve Nebraska’s business climate in a global economy.

This review will identify unnecessary red tape and eliminate harmful and wasteful regulations that are a hindrance to job creators who are growing our state.  We have immediately suspended all rulemaking and ordered state agencies to conduct a review of all existing and pending agency regulations.  By November 15, 2017, each state agency will submit a report to my office for each existing or proposed regulation.  In that report, we are asking agencies to answer key questions about the value and effectiveness of their regulations.  Following the review, we will take steps to eliminate, streamline, and modify regulations to make them more customer-friendly.

As we think about how to grow for the future, it’s important to remember who the true economic engines of our state are.  While state government can provide the framework for growth, small business owners, ag producers, and startup entrepreneurs across the private sector are the job creators who are growing Nebraska.  Thank you for all your work!

If you have additional ideas on strategies to grow our state, I hope you’ll reach out to my office by emailing pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or by calling 402-471-2244.  We value your input, and stand ready to assist with any other matter on your mind.