OMAHA, Neb. – A group of business and community leaders announced today that they have formed the One Nebraska Coalition, a statewide network that will advocate for the University of Nebraska, its 53,000 students and its vital role in growing Nebraska’s workforce, economy and quality of life.
The coalition’s co-chairs are Tom Henning, CEO of Cash-Wa Distributing in Kearney; Former Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood of Norfolk; Leslie Andersen, President and CEO of Bank of Bennington; and Tonn Ostergard, CEO of Crete Carrier Corp. in Lincoln. Members are being added now as the coalition develops plans to help share the story of the University’s impact on the entire state and advocate for continued investment in one of Nebraska’s primary economic drivers.
“As an alumnus and long-time advocate of the University of Nebraska, I’m convinced it’s time for alumni, friends and citizens across the state to join together in support of the institution that has changed so many of our lives,” Ostergard said. “This is a time of great momentum and opportunity for our University. When the University is successful, our state is successful.”
According to an independent economic study in 2016, the University of Nebraska’s annual impact on the state is $3.9 billion – a 6-to-1 return on every dollar the state invests – but its impact goes well beyond dollars. The University trains more than half of Nebraska’s doctors, dentists and nurses and produces almost 11,000 graduates per year. There are 187,000 alums living in the state. The University of Nebraska Medical Center is a leader in cancer research that is gaining global attention while saving the lives of Nebraskans, and University research in agriculture is growing the state’s most crucial industry while serving farmers and ranchers here and abroad.
“The State of Nebraska is facing serious financial challenges which force difficult decisions. As hard-working policy makers navigate these economic realities, I think it’s important we tell the University system’s story to rural Nebraskans that benefit in so many ways from the research, innovation and access to a high-quality education right here at home. From health care to agriculture, our success is tied to our support for the University of Nebraska,” Flood said.
Henning said, “The strong partnership between the state, its University and the private sector has served our state well for many years. We have great potential to make Nebraska the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family. We believe the University of Nebraska can help lead the way, and we’re excited to take that message to our partners at the Capitol, in the media and communities across our great state. We hope every parent, alum, student and employer in Nebraska will join us.”
“As business leaders, we depend on the University of Nebraska to provide the highly skilled graduates we need to fill the workforce. We’ll need many more of these talented young people to grow our economy in the future. A strong, growing University that works hand-in-hand with the private sector to create jobs and attract and retain talent in our state is essential to Nebraska’s continued competitiveness,” Andersen said.