Nebraska Business Hall of Fame

By Governor Dave Heineman

We have a bold and strategic vision to make Nebraska the ideal place to create jobs and grow a business, the best place to obtain an education for students of all ages, and the perfect place to raise a family. We’ve made fundamental investments in education and the economic vitality of our state and as a result Nebraska has made significant progress and we have consistently ranked in the top 10 as a business-friendly state.

This week, I was at the annual Nebraska Business Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The Nebraska Business Hall of Fame was established in 1992 by the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the University of Nebraska College of Business Administration to recognize business leaders whose contributions to our state’s economy and business environment are deserving of public recognition.

These business leaders are selected from nominations received from the general business community, statewide business association and the academic community. The criterion includes business people from large and small businesses and corporations who have made a significant contribution to the private enterprise system.

Since 1992, 80 deserving leaders and entrepreneurs have been inducted into the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame. These prestigious names include one of the first recipients, Robert Daugherty, an Omaha manufacturer of farm elevators who helped build Valmont into a major worldwide producer and supplier of outdoor lighting and traffic signals poles, electric transmission and substation structures and communications towers; 1994 recipient Duane Acklie who founded Crete Carrier Corporation, who also served as a chairman of Shaffer Trucking, Inc., Sunflower Carriers, Inc., HTL Truck Line, Inc., and president of LRC, Inc. and who made the Acklie Companies national leaders in the transportation industry; 1997 recipient Rose Blumkin, a Russian immigrant who founded one of the largest stores in the country, Nebraska Furniture Mart, using the principles of “sell cheap, tell the truth and give special attention to customers;” 2002 recipients C.L. Werner, Chairman and CEO of Werner Enterprise a truckload motor carrier of general commodities in both interstate and intrastate commerce and among the five largest truckload carriers in the United States; Edwin E. Perkins who, as an 11 year-old boy, imagined a fruit drink that became America’s most recognizable soft drink – Kool-Aid; and 2006 recipient Bruce Lauritzen, Chairman of First National Bank of Omaha, who helped build Omaha’s downtown redevelopment and riverfront project.

Joining these great names are the 2012 Nebraska Business Hall of Fame inductees. They are John Gottschalk, an Omaha philanthropist who ran the Omaha World-Herald; Hal Lainson, Jr. who helped develop one of the country’s leading manufacturing companies that played a prominent role during World War II, Dutton-Lainson Co. of Hastings; Bob and Cynthia Milligan of Lincoln, where Bob has grown MI Industries to become a leading producer of pet products as well as biological and pharmaceutical products and Cynthia Hardin Milligan has served as Dean of the College of Business Administration at UNL for 14 years; Eldon N. Roth who is the founder and president of BPI Technology, Inc. in South Sioux City which is a dominant player in lean meat manufacturing industry.

Our vision for Nebraska’s economic future is for our graduates and young professionals to have access to high-quality, high-skill careers with dynamic companies doing business in Nebraska.

It is the Chambers of Commerce all across Nebraska that annually recognize local members who lead the economic development in their own communities. I really appreciate those who join us in helping Nebraska move forward.

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