This March, Nebraska won its third consecutive Governor’s Cup. Each year, Site Selection magazine awards the trophy to the state with the most economic development projects per capita. Nebraska didn’t just win the Governor’s Cup this year — our state clobbered the competition. We had more new projects than South Dakota, North Dakota and Kansas combined.
A winning streak like this doesn’t happen without a lot of hard work. Leaders from every corner of our state have diligently invested in the growth of our communities. They know from experience that Nebraska is the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family. Existing businesses have expanded their operations here, and we have recruited new business to our state as well.
This week, I will kick off a Governor’s Cup tour with our team from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. We’re traveling to Lincoln, Omaha, Bloomfield, Norfolk, Columbus, Minden and Sidney to say “thank you” to the businesses in Nebraska who helped our state win the Governor’s Cup once again.
Nebraska’s nationally-ranked, pro-growth environment helped bring the trophy home. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranked Nebraska as having the best fiscal condition of the 50 states. Moody’s Investors Service reported that the State of Nebraska is the least indebted state government in the country. Forbes ranked our state as having the second-best regulatory environment for businesses. CNBC placed Nebraska in the top five on its list of best U.S. states to find a job in 2019.
As back-to-back-to-back national champions in economic development, we’re not content to rest on our success. We’re seeking to build on our momentum and looking for new opportunities to grow Nebraska. In particular, my team is focused on four priorities: developing our people, cutting red tape, delivering tax relief and promoting Nebraska.
Nebraska’s greatest resource is our hard-working, dependable people. We are taking steps to train and retain a quality workforce, and to connect Nebraskans with great jobs in growing career fields. Just last week, the Nebraska Department of Labor received a federal grant of $840,000 to expand our Registered Apprenticeship program. The funding will open the door for 400 new apprentices to gain valuable, hands-on experience in IT and manufacturing. And it builds on the important work our Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI) has been doing to introduce middle school students to great careers in manufacturing and information technology. DYTI has reached over 7,000 kids already, and is set to reach over 4,000 more with new grants we recently announced.
We have also cut red tape to make Nebraska a more inviting place for everyone from entrepreneurs to military spouses. In March, I signed LB 112 into law. The bill waives initial occupational and licensing fees for young adults, members of military families and low-income Nebraskans. For college graduates with student debt, or those looking to get back on their feet financially, first-year licensing fees can be a barrier to entering the workforce. LB 112 removes that obstacle so that Nebraskans can more easily, and more quickly, get started in their chosen profession. The Legislature and I also worked together this session to merge the Energy Office and the Department of Environmental Quality. The new Department of Environment and Energy will be more efficient and deliver better service for the customers they serve.
Property tax relief remains my number-one goal. To accomplish real, sustainable tax relief, Nebraska needs to control spending and grow our economy. The good news is that we’ve been successful on both fronts. By controlling spending, we delivered $550 million of direct property tax relief to Nebraskans in the budget I recently signed. I also signed bills to stop automatic property tax hikes, and to deliver property tax relief for flood victims. We still have more work to do around structural property tax relief. That’s why Nebraskans deserve a chance to vote on LR 8CA, which would cap property tax increases. This summer, I have been sitting down with senators to talk about our next plans for property tax relief, so our farmers, ranchers and homeowners get the relief they need.
Finally, our work to promote Nebraska is also bearing fruit. For example, Nebraska’s beef exports jumped 14 percent from 2017 to 2018, which represents an increase of over $175 million. Beef exports to Japan, a country I’ve visited twice on trade missions, accounted for over $40 million of that growth. This September, I will lead another trade mission to Japan as well as to Vietnam. In November, I will visit Germany, the largest economy in the European Union, to promote Nebraska. On these missions, I’ll be accompanied by Nebraska farmers, ranchers and business people who will share about the high-quality products they make and grow. Their participation gives our international partners great insight into our ag community and our family farms that help feed the world.
By developing our people, cutting red tape, reducing the tax burden and promoting Nebraska at home and abroad, we can continue our strong growth. If you have ideas about how to fuel greater growth here in Nebraska, I hope you will share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-471-2244. Together, we can add to our growth and pass on prosperity to the next generation of Nebraskans.