From the Governor with Pete Ricketts

Nebraska City News-Press

Creating Opportunities for All Nebraskans

Over the past year, Nebraska has been enjoying rapid growth, creating lots of great-paying job opportunities here in the Good Life.  We have the second lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 2.6 percent.  That’s the lowest rate our state has seen since 1999.  

Right now, we have more than 40,000 jobs available on the state of Nebraska’s jobs site: NEworks.nebraska.gov.  These are some of the reasons why WalletHub recently ranked Nebraska as the No. 2 state in the U.S. to find a job. 

As we grow Nebraska for the next generation, there are plenty of opportunities to take a great job and enjoy all the Good Life has to offer.  Whether you’re just starting out or have lots of experience, you can find rewarding work.  Every area of our state, rural and urban, has an unemployment rate below 3.0 percent.  Whether you’re Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American, or White—there’s opportunity for everyone here in the Cornhusker State. 

To help people of all backgrounds make the most of the great opportunities we have to offer, we’re building better broadband infrastructure, investing in affordable housing, and making job opportunities at the state more accessible to everyone.

With the help of the Legislature, we’re investing $20 million annually in matching grants to expand broadband infrastructure to thousands of new households.  This builds on about $30 million in CARES Act money we invested in broadband infrastructure last year.  

The enhanced service will equip more of our rural communities with the technology needed to conduct business online, make virtual health visits, and participate in remote education.

We’re also investing to meet housing needs across the state.  We recently awarded over $9 million of Rural Workforce Housing Fund grants to help local communities construct new homes.  

We also awarded $9.6 million to non-profits through our Middle Income Workforce Housing Fund to help them build affordable residences in Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy counties. 

We want to make sure there’s an ample supply of reasonably priced, high-quality housing to keep our graduates here in Nebraska and to recruit top talent to the Good Life. 

Additionally, we’ve taken steps to improve access to great job opportunities in state government.  For example, to ensure that we are fair and making decisions without regard to background, we automatically move qualified candidates to the next round of the employment process when we hire.  

In the past year, we also joined the Department of Defense SkillBridge Intern program and launched the Military Spouses Transition network to better integrate veterans and military families into our workforce.  

To better reach the best and brightest talent in our state, we’ve advertised state jobs in a broader range of publications, such as the Black EOE Journal, Hispanic Network Magazine, and U.S. Veterans Magazine.

By getting the word out more broadly, people from a wider variety of backgrounds are taking jobs with the state of Nebraska.  

In December 2014, the month before I took office, about 7.3 percent of our teammates at the state came from a minority population.  That number has now risen to 11.8 percent.  That’s a 61.6 percent increase in six years. 

We’ve also looked at our state procurement process to see how we can grow Nebraska while creating jobs for small businesses from across our state.  Our vendor concierge program provides a dedicated professional to walk businesses through the request for proposal (RFP) process.  

This shortens the learning curve for businesses when they first apply for state contracts.  We’ve also begun listing all services contracted by the state—including prospective services—on our Department of Administrative Services website (das.nebraska.gov).  

Previously, firms wouldn’t learn about an opportunity to do business with the state until an RFP was posted.  This gave an advantage to larger businesses with the resources and administrative support to quickly submit a bid after seeing a new job announced.  We’re now listing the prospective services the state anticipates needing in the near term.  This gives smaller businesses more lead time to develop a competitive bid. 

By prioritizing high-speed broadband internet connectivity, we’re growing every corner of our state.  By investing in quality housing, we’re helping communities all across Nebraska build attractive, affordable homes for working families.  

By improving the accessibility of jobs and contracts, we’re delivering an excellent level of service at the state of Nebraska with a workforce that more closely resembles the general population. 

As we move forward, we’ll continue to grow every part of Nebraska, for everyone in Nebraska.  If you have questions about the State’s work to create opportunities for all Nebraskans, please email pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call 402-471-2244.  To learn more about careers in state government, go to statejobs.nebraska.gov.

Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Govenor