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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Open for Business

By Governor Pete Ricketts
October 5, 2015

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Building a climate in Nebraska that inspires entrepreneurialism and encourages our businesses to expand is one of the keys to growing our state and creating high quality jobs.  In recent years, Nebraska has received high marks for our business-friendly atmosphere, favorable regulatory environment, and cost of doing business from respected news outlets like Forbes and CNBC.  From connecting aspiring software developers and irrigation technicians with great career opportunities to bringing down the time it takes to deliver an air quality permit and other regulatory barriers, my administration is focused on finding new ways to building on these successes and improving these rankings. 

While our state has built a great reputation as a place to do business, the events of this past week are a healthy reminder why the State of Nebraska and communities throughout our state must continually look for new ways to attract new businesses and retain existing ones.  ConAgra’s decision to move their world headquarters as a part of a larger restructuring to turn their company around demonstrates the importance of ensuring that our tax rates and business tax incentive programs remain competitive.  The Tax Foundation ranks Nebraska 29th in their Business Tax Climate index.  While this ranking has improved in recent years, there is still more work to be done.

Nebraska’s pioneer spirit has fueled our state’s growth over the years through tough circumstances, and it continues to do so today.  In spite of the events of last week, our state remains open for business and is in a great position to continue to grow and flourish in the coming years.  Nebraska has four Fortune 500 companies and ten Fortune 1000 companies – an unusually high number for the size of our state.  In agriculture, our state’s number one industry, we are a national leader.  We are the number one state for cattle on feed, the number two ethanol producer, and third in corn production.  The nearly 2,000 manufacturing facilities in our second largest industry segment employ almost 100,000 Nebraskans with an average annual wage of about $50,000.

From our people’s perspective, Nebraska is by any account the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family.  Our low unemployment rate led Fortune Magazine to name Lincoln and Omaha as the top two best cities in which to find a job in 2015.  CNBC ranks Nebraska eighth best for lowest cost of living.  Our high school graduation rate is the second highest in the nation, and our students have the highest average ACT score for states that test over 80 percent of their students.  Our great education system and the incredible work ethic of Nebraskans have forged a world-class workforce.  My personal experience confirms this: My family’s business has hired thousands of Nebraskans, I know that when you hire a Nebraskan you hire someone who is well-educated, is loyal, and has a great work ethic.

As our state continues to move forward, Nebraska must continually seek new ways to market our state both nationally and globally.  We need to market our state to make sure potential employers and customers are aware of the competitive advantages that we enjoy here in Nebraska.  As a start, I have already led two international trade missions to Europe and Asia to promote Nebraska’s businesses overseas and to encourage additional investment in our state.  This is only a beginning, and we will continue to raise national and global awareness about what Nebraska has to offer.  In the coming days and months, I hope that you will join me in delivering the good news about Nebraska’s business-friendly culture to the people you know everywhere.  As always, if you have any questions please email pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call my office at 402-471-2244.

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