Candid citizen input critical to success of Blueprint Nebraska

Vision.
Unity of purpose.
A plan to help Nebraska compete and win again.
Husker fans have a lot of faith in native son Scott Frost’s ability to bring all of the above to Nebraska, but there is another initiative being launched now which has the same objective. And believe it or not, Blueprint Nebraska’s impact, if successful, could be as significant to our state as a return of Nebraska’s beloved football team to national prominence.
While Big Red football stirs passion in Nebraska from border to border, generation to generation, Blueprint Nebraska has the potential to impact our state’s ability to thrive and grow economically for this and future generations. That’s a VERY big deal.
A story in last week’s edition explained that the statewide coalition has begun gathering input to develop a plan for economic growth, competitiveness and prosperity in Nebraska for the next 150 years and beyond. With low commodity prices rippling across our state’s economy, and low unemployment making it difficult to hire employees when and where needed, the timing of this project is absolutely critical.
At last count, there are a reported 55,000 unfilled jobs in Nebraska, and economists project that number could grow to 100,000 or more in the next few years. If you talk to owners and managers from businesses large and small here in Hamilton County the labor factor is a growing concern, and state chamber officials say it’s the same story all across Nebraska and for that matter the nation.
What is exciting about Blueprint Nebraska, which kicked off an aggressive agenda with a forum last week in Aurora, is the level of commitment from captains of industry, the University of Nebraska and state lawmakers. What’s needed now is candid input and buy-in from citizens, which is part of the message being delivered now in a series of 30 statewide forums.
Whether you are 70, 40, 25 or somewhere in between, what does the future look like to you? What kinds of jobs, housing and social opportunities will it take to meet your personal and family’s goals?
Once that data has been collected, the heavy lifting for this project will be done by a series of industry councils, one of which will be led by Aurora’s own Gary Warren, who chairs the technology and innovation committee. That group, for example, will likely hear unanimous demand for high-speed internet access for all, including rural farm communities. The message is not new, but Blueprint Nebraska’s commitment and unity of purpose to make it happen is.
If you haven’t already, take the time to engage in this process. Log on to blueprint-nebraska.org and share your personal and employment wants and needs. Nebraska can’t win this game without a good game plan, which starts with you.
Kurt Johnson

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