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One of the best things about working as a Nebraska State Senator is that I never run out of opportunities to serve my state and the constituents of District 18. That’s as true during the interim as it is when the Legislature is in session.
By virtue of my position as Chairman of the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee I have the opportunity to serve on the Nebraska Economic Development Task Force.
The purpose of this monthly task force meeting is to gather input on issues pertaining to economic development and discuss new ways to proactively support growth. It is composed of three members of the Legislature appointed by the Executive Board, one from each congressional district, and the seven Chairpersons of the Legislature’s standing committees.
It is my hope that I can use my time on the task force to create opportunities for Nebraskans by working not only with my fellow Senators, but with industry and academic experts and with experts from Nebraska’s state departments.
Experts and functionaries consulted with so far include: the Commissioner of the Department of Labor, the Director of Economic Development, the Commissioner of the Department of Education, the Executive Director of Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Post-secondary Education, the Director of the Rural Futures Institute, the Superintendent of Grand Island Public Schools, the Dean of Information Technology & E-Learning at Metropolitan Community College, the Chief Strategist of the University of Nebraska, and the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Wayne State College.
The main questions we are looking to have answered include: what businesses are coming and going in Nebraska, where our state is gaining and where it is losing, how Nebraska attracts and retains people to our state, how Nebraska strengthen its workforce capacity, how Nebraska increases citizens’ earning potential and quality of life and how Nebraska fosters innovation and entrepreneurship.
The July meeting of the Economic Development Task Force focused on workforce development in our elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions and included testimony from the State Director of Career Education with the Nebraska Department of Education, Rich Katt. Katt is quoted in this recent op-ed about workforce development in our schools from the Omaha World Herald. We also heard about exciting programs and partnerships with Wayne State College, Metropolitan Community College, and Grand Island Public Schools among others.
The next meeting of the task force is scheduled for August 11th and will feature a panel discussion on the role of the arts, cultural and creative industries in Nebraska’s economic development. By meeting with our state’s foremost experts and exploring tough questions, I am confident we can find ways to get our economy growing again. As always, I am honored to represent you in the Nebraska State Legislature.