The Talent & Innovation Initiative

By Governor Dave Heineman

I want to highlight a series of legislative proposals designed to advance business innovation and workforce recruitment efforts in Nebraska. The four legislative bills making up my Talent and Innovation Initiative were introduced in the Nebraska Legislature last week as part of my budget recommendations.

The Talent and Innovation Initiative is about enhancing the level of business specialization and attracting new, advanced companies to Nebraska. We want to help the private sector grow. This is about creating new job opportunities, particularly in high-tech, research-driven fields.

The proposal is based on recommendations from several detailed studies of Nebraska’s economic climate. We took those suggestions and evaluated them in the context of existing economic development programs to develop four proposals.

LB 386, the Nebraska Internship Program aims to increase the number of college and university students interning with Nebraska businesses. Funded with $1.5 million annually in redirected job training funds and a 100 percent match from companies creating new internships, the program would provide job experience for juniors and seniors at the state’s four-year institutions or students in their second year at a Nebraska community college.

Our goal is to connect students with work experience in Nebraska, particularly in high-skill sectors, in an effort to help retain more students post-graduation.

LB 387, the Business Innovation Act would provide competitive grants for private sector research at Nebraska institutions, technical assistance in new product development and testing, and help expand small business and entrepreneur outreach efforts. The effort will be paid for with $1.5 million in redirected funds and $5.5 million in new funding.

LB 388, the Site & Building Development Fund would increase the number of industrial and commercial sites available and ready for business development using $3 million in redirected resources and at least a one-to-one match from communities. State funding would be focused on land and infrastructure costs with 40 percent of funding going to non-metro areas.

LB 389, the Angel Investment Tax Credit would help encourage investment in high-tech and other Nebraska startup enterprises. The program would be capped at $5 million annually, with $3 million coming from redirected funds and $2 million in new funding. Businesses eligible to benefit from angel investments would have fewer than 25 employees.

The motivation for this initiative is to help advance the level of business specialization among existing companies and to attract new, advanced companies to our state. It would provide new tools to enhance collaboration between business and education which is part of creating an innovation economy. Economic success and education success are linked together.

We are focused on creating higher paying jobs and developing a more highly educated workforce. We want our graduates and young professionals to be ready for high-skill jobs with dynamic companies doing business in Nebraska. We want to enhance Nebraska’s momentum for continued growth.

The feedback I’ve received has been very positive. I am hopeful that the Talent and Innovation Initiative will be approved by the Legislature this year.

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