Entrepreneurship task force proposed

The Executive Board heard testimony Feb. 3 on a bill that would create a task force focused on innovation and entrepreneurship in Nebraska’s economy.

LB1083, introduced by Gothenburg Sen. Matt Williams, would adopt the Next Generation Business Growth Act. The bill also would create a Venture Development and Innovation Task Force consisting of six senators appointed by the Executive Board.

Williams said Nebraska needs to increase the number and diversity of high-wage jobs across the state.

“For Nebraska to succeed it needs to grow,” Williams said. “Growing is not easy and it takes a long-term strategy; it takes a plan and it takes commitment.”

Daniel Duncan, executive director of Nebraska Innovation Campus Development Corporation, testified in support of the bill on behalf of the University of Nebraska. The state can be a powerful partner in developing new companies and fostering their growth, he said.

“Governmental agencies at all levels can help create a climate and a culture that helps innovation and entrepreneurship develop,” Duncan said.

The task force would be charged with developing a statewide strategic plan to cultivate a climate of entrepreneurship and innovation in Nebraska. The strategic plan would include:
• an inventory of existing state-sponsored and locally sponsored programs and resources that are targeted to small businesses, microenterprises and entrepreneurial endeavors in the state;
• an economic impact analysis of the existing programs under the Nebraska Business Innovation Act;
• an overview of best practices from other states; and
• a review of previously issued statewide strategic plans focused on high-growth businesses and various policy options.

In consultation with the Executive Board, the task force would employ a nonprofit organization to assist in development of the strategic plan by Dec. 1, 2016. The $75,000 in funding for development of the strategic plan would come from the Community Development Assistance Act.

The Next Generation Business Growth Act would terminate on Jan. 1, 2017.

No opposition testimony was offered and the committee took no immediate action on LB1083.

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