The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry, in cooperation with the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce, held its annual legislative forum on Tuesday, September 25. Thirty-five individuals attended, both members from the Kearney community and area business leaders. In total, the state Chamber plans to visit 30 communities across the state this fall.
This year’s state Chamber presentation examined key business-related bills in the 2018 session of the Nebraska Legislature, as well as important business-related issues awaiting the Legislature in January. Up for discussion were tax bills enacted in 2018 including LB 1090, LB 1089, LB738, LB496, LB994, LB953 and LB957. Key issues that the state Chamber has taken a focus on include taxes, regulations, workforce needs and job creation. There are 58,000 jobs available in Nebraska right now.
According to State Chamber President Bryan Slone, “Job creation and workforce issues, along with the economy, continue to be the most pressing issues facing most Nebraska communities. These forums will give local leaders more insight into the factors affecting our state’s economic climate and growth potential.” Sloan also noted that, moving forward, the State Chamber would seek to partner with the educational community to help solve workforce issues. The Chamber sees it as is important to show students that there are quality career options available throughout the state of Nebraska.
A significant portion of Tuesday’s forum was dedicated to Blueprint Nebraska, a recently formed organization that is spearheading a statewide economic development initiative. Blueprint Nebraska seeks to establish a comprehensive, long-term plan to stimulate the state’s economic growth, competitiveness and prosperity, while building on current strengths.
Jim Smith, Executive Director for Blueprint Nebraska, spoke about the importance of taking the Blueprint NE survey (available at https://blueprint-nebraska.org). The goal of the survey is to gather feedback from business leaders statewide before moving on to the second phase of the initiative, which is to develop an economic plan that can be utilized by Nebraska businesses, with the potential to make its way into state law. The objective is to have this done by the second quarter of 2019.
Blueprint Nebraska is currently in the early planning stages. The organization is trying to be as transparent as possible while developing an economic strategy for the businesses within the state.
For more than three decades, the Nebraska Chamber has conducted legislative forums to gather input from the business community on issues of concern, while providing a review of recent legislation considered by the state lawmakers. In 2019, the state Chamber intends to focus on such issues as tackling a new budget, taxes, internet sales tax collection, workforce and housing, economic development and educational funding (TEEOSA).