Innovation partnership bill amended, advanced

Lawmakers advanced a bill from select file March 3 meant to facilitate relationships between technology firms and research institutions in historically underserved areas of Nebraska.

Sen. Terrell McKinney
Sen. Terrell McKinney

LB450, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Terrell McKinney, would require the state Department of
Economic Development to design an innovation hub, or “iHub,” designation for certain areas in Nebraska.

The bill defines an iHub as a partnership between private nonprofit corporations and a two- or four-year college or university to stimulate economic development. Among other tasks, the DED would provide technical assistance and guidance to entrepreneurs
and facilitate partnerships between the member organizations.

Lincoln Sen. Suzanne Geist offered an amendment on select file to include provisions of her LB1215. The amendment would appropriate $5 million to a newly created small business assistance program. The program would allow certain individuals who want to start a small business with five or fewer employees in Nebraska to apply for a $25,000 grant from DED.

To qualify for a grant, the applicant could not have earned more than $55,000 in the most recent calendar year, have a net worth of less than $200,000 and not have an ownership interest in any other business.

The amendment also would authorize grants of up to $12,500 for small businesses in existence less than five years if gross revenue has grown by less than 25 percent in the past calendar year and the owner has a net worth of less than $200,000 and does not have an ownership interest in another business.

“These start-ups … could include salons, boutique stores, child care centers and many other businesses that provide much-needed services,” Geist said.

Senators adopted the amendment on a 31-0 vote and advanced LB450 to final reading on a voice vote.

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