Pictured from left to right in the press conference photo: Ryan Purdy, President of Mid-Plains Community College; Gary Person, President and CEO of the North Platte Area Chamber of Commerce and Development Corporation; K.C. Belitz, Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development; Governor Jim Pillen; Bryan Slone, President of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Kyle Arganbright, Mayor of Valentine.

New strategy convenes leaders, by community college region, to design and implement collaborative economic development projects

Today, the Governor’s Office, Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), and Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry held a press conference in North Platte to kick off the new 6 Regions, One Nebraska initiative.

The strategy is convening leaders in each of Nebraska’s six community college districts to design and implement collaborative, regional economic development projects. 

“To grow Nebraska for our kids and grandkids, we have to be on the same page and pulling in the same direction,” said Governor Jim Pillen. “Our 6 Regions, One Nebraska initiative brings key leaders to the table so that we can build the partnerships needed to move our state forward.”

At the request of Governor Pillen, the Nebraska Legislature allocated $3 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to DED this year to fund the regional effort. The State financial investment, supplemented by private dollars, is helping to establish a core work team in each region.

“In the new era of economic development, it’s less likely for any one community to have all the resources it needs to thrive,” said DED Director K.C. Belitz. “Partnerships are more important than ever as we recruit talent, develop housing, and build a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurs. Nebraska is blessed with exceptional community leaders. The regional initiative is going to be guided by their shared ideas and insights.”

The State’s financial investment will also provide financial incentive for initial regional projects in one of the following areas:

  • Resident Recruitment
  • Youth Engagement
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Technology
  • Infrastructure
  • Selected Regional Project

“I’m tremendously excited to launch this new initiative,” said Kyle Arganbright, mayor of Valentine and co-chair of the Mid-Plains regional team. “Our region has spectacular natural beauty and is brimming with potential for growth. It’s inspiring to be in a room with leaders who share my passion and dedication to grow rural Nebraska.”

Governor Jim Pillen is meeting with each regional team twice annually for work sessions. Each session will include a presentation of data to inform regional decision-making. Each region will also conduct asset mapping to identify the strengths it can draw on to drive growth.

“Here in Lincoln County, we’ve seen the fruits of shared vision and a determined team,” said Gary Person, President and CEO of the North Platte Area Chamber and Development Corporation and co-chair of the Mid-Plains regional team. “I look forward to linking up with surrounding communities to make the most of the incredible opportunities in front of us as a region. Thank you to Governor Pillen and the Nebraska Legislature for supporting west-central Nebraska through this endeavor.”

The goal of the 6 Regions, One Nebraska initiative is to catalyze cooperation among communities so that regional partnerships become the norm for how Nebraska pursues economic development.

“As we launch 6 Regions, One Nebraska, we’re committed to delivering tangible results,” said Nebraska Chamber President Bryan Slone. “This initiative is data-driven and action-oriented. We want to see measurable wins that make a difference in the lives of Nebraskans.”

Today’s inaugural regional meeting was hosted by Mid-Plains Community College (MPCC) at its North Campus in North Platte. Nebraska’s community colleges are key members of 6 Regions, One Nebraska.

“Mid-Plains Community College enjoys the strong relationships we have with civic and business partners,” said Ryan Purdy, president of MPCC. “We’re committed to educating and equipping Nebraskans to take on influential roles in our state workforce. I look forward to working alongside leaders across our region to create great opportunities for our students.”