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Talent and Innovation Bills Signed Into Law

Yesterday, Governor Heineman signed into law five bills that I think will fundamentally change economic development strategy in Nebraska. It puts front and center a major focus on talent and innovation, which are the only proven long-term drivers of economic growth and development. Yesterday’s developments strengthen Nebraska’s competitiveness in a 21st Century economy where a premium is placed on talent and innovation. Additionally, legislation like the bills signed yesterday will give America an edge over China, India and Germany in future global competitiveness.

Have a look at the Governor’s press release below and KUDOS to everyone involved in the effort – it was awesome to see partners come together to close the deal. It was also a ton of fun to have a bit role in helping to make this happen.

Gov. Heineman Signs Talent & Innovation Initiative Bills into Law

(Lincoln, Neb.) Gov. Dave Heineman today signed the final measures of a four-part legislative package into law. The Talent and Innovation Initiative was a 2011 legislative priority for the Governor and introduced by several State Senators on his behalf. The initiative is aimed at advancing business innovation and strengthening workforce recruitment efforts in Nebraska.

“The Talent and Innovation Initiative is about enhancing technology and innovation, and growing and attracting new, technology-focused companies to Nebraska,” Gov. Heineman said. “It puts a laser-like focus on growing Nebraska’s innovation economy. With this initiative, Nebraska has one of the strongest public policy strategies in place to advance business recruitment and development.”

Gov - Talent & Innovation

Governor Heinemen Signs Talent and Innovation Act

Based on 2010 recommendations made in a comprehensive review of Nebraska’s economic climate, the Talent & Innovation Initiative was developed to better leverage existing funds and enhance momentum in developing industries positioned to benefit from technology and innovation. Programs contained in the bills will be implemented by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

LB 386, the Nebraska Internship Program, introduced by Sen. Lavon Heidemann of Elk Creek, takes effect June 1. It is a partnership with Nebraska businesses to create new internship opportunities for college and university students. Funded with $1.5 million a year in job training funds, and matched by eligible companies, the program will create opportunities for 500 to 750 juniors and seniors studying at four-year institutions or students in their second year at a Nebraska community college to gain job experience.

Awards will be made on a first-come, first-serve basis to companies creating new internship opportunities, which are capped at 10 per business. Internships will pay at least minimum wage and range from 12 week to year-long programs.

LB 387, the Business Innovation Act, introduced by Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney, intended to help businesses develop new technologies to enhance quality job opportunities in the state. It will provide competitive grants for research at Nebraska institutions, new product development and testing, and help expand small business and entrepreneur outreach efforts.

It will expand grant opportunities within targeted industries to help businesses providing matching funds with prototype development, commercialization and applied research in the state and provide assistance for microenterprise projects. The law takes effect Oct. 1.

LB 388, the Site & Building Development Fund, introduced by Sen. John Wightman of Lexington, takes effect Oct. 1 and is intended to help increase industrial and commercial sites available and ready for business development. Communities will provide matching funds toward projects that can involve demolition, new construction and rehabilitation. State funding will be focused on land and infrastructure costs with 40 percent of funding available to non-metro areas.

LB 389, the Angel Investment Tax Credit, introduced by Sen. Abbie Cornett of Bellevue, is effective for the current tax year. It encourages investment in high-tech and other startup enterprises in Nebraska by providing refundable state income tax credits to qualified investors investing in qualified early-stage companies. Capped at $3 million annually, the program requires a minimum investment of $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for investment funds. Eligible small businesses must have fewer than 25 employees, with the majority based in the state.

Additionally, the Governor signed LB 345, the Small Business Innovation Act sponsored by Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln, which provides additional tools and technical assistance for entrepreneurs across Nebraska.

Gov. Heineman said, “I want to thank the many senators who supported these proposals, the business community and other private sector leaders. This is about making investments that will develop new career opportunities in innovative and technologically-advanced sectors.”

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