Area ‘6 Regions, 1 Nebraska’ economic development effort starts in Gering

Area ‘6 Regions, 1 Nebraska’ economic development effort starts in Gering
Gov. Jim Pillen discusses the 6 Regions, 1 Nebraska initiative during a news conference Monday at the Gering Civic Center. From left: Regional co-chair Owen Palm, Tera Lea with the Nebraska Chamber, Pillen, Roberta Pinkerton of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Regional co-chair Zac Karpf and WNCC President Greg Dart
June 24th, 2024 | Scott Miller

Some 90 representatives of business, education and other facets of life throughout the Panhandle gathered at the Gering Civic Center Monday for the inaugural area meeting of the Six Regions, One Nebraska initiative.

The goal of the effort is to catalyze cooperation among communities so regional partnerships become the norm for how Nebraska pursues economic development.

At a news conference prior to the meeting, Governor Jim Pillen said it would be a significant shift in thinking. “I think that my generation probably spent too much time competing and competing against each other. One Nebraska, the goal is that we think of a little differently, that we focus on competing together” said Pillen. “Whatever is good in one community is going to be great for the other community. And we continue to grow and enhance and learn from each other.”

The Western region corresponds with the WNCC service area, with the regional effort co-chaired by Zac Karpf and Owen Palm. Karpf told reporters the shift in focus is exciting.

“There are some things that work very well in the metropolitan areas of the state that don’t work well here. There’s things that work well here that don’t work well there. And so to me, it’s about identifying those things, playing to our strengths, and making sure that we’re getting something for our region that helps us economically, and makes it more likely that our kids and grandkids can come back to this area and have very productive and happy lives.” Karpf said.

$3 million in state funds was appropriated for the three-year statewide program, with unique navigators in each region to help coordinate economic development efforts. The intent is for the working group to come up with two or three projects that would have local and regional impact, and have that whittled down to one by the end of this year.

The effort is the next step to put into practical use the findings of Blueprint Nebraska, which was championed in large part by the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry several years ago.


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