Blueprint Nebraska doesn’t carry any guarantees, but the effort to promote job growth across the state carries a lot of promise.
Blueprint Nebraska is an effort to develop the state’s first comprehensive long-range economic plan.
Hank Bounds, president of the University of Nebraska, initiated the idea based on an effort he led in Mississippi. Gov. Pete Ricketts enthusiastically endorsed the effort, as did the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and business and industry leaders from throughout the state.
The goal of the effort is to see job growth and economic development throughout the state, not just in the Omaha and Lincoln areas.
That is an extremely worthy goal and is much needed. While the big cities in eastern Nebraska and cities along the I-80 corridor have seen some growth, much of the rest of the state has been stagnant. Most rural areas have been losing population.
A strategy that would help bring growth to all of the state would be welcomed by all.
Of course, that is easier said than done.
But Blueprint Nebraska is off to a good start as it has received buy-in from a large number of business and industry leaders.
Blueprint Nebraska has a 21-member steering committee. This group is forming 15 industry councils. Each council will have about a dozen members and each council will focus on a different part of the economy, such as the workforce or agriculture.
These councils will begin to tour the state later this summer. They plan to go to 30 or more communities to get input from residents.
A plan will then be published within a year to 16 months. The plan will include action items as well as evaluations of the state’s strengths and weaknesses.
It is good to see business leaders and officials from throughout the state being willing to work together on this effort. Too often the state is divided into regions — eastern, central and western Nebraska, for example — and these regions tend to take a territorial viewpoint, or the state is split into rural vs. urban interests.
With these territorial walls broken down, Blueprint Nebraska could develop a true comprehensive plan for the entire state.
That is what is needed and will benefit all regions because they are all interdependent. Many of the large employers in some cities are food processors who rely on agricultural producers in the state.
During the next several months to a year, more details about what Blueprint Nebraska is developing will be revealed. But any effort to create better paying jobs in the state will be worth the effort.