Mali R. Schantz-Feld (Aug/Sep 08)
Nebraska's Governor Dave Heineman. "Because of our diversified economy, we are one of few states that at least currently is not experiencing an economic downturn, while the vast majority of governors say that their states are in or near recession. Our revenues exceed our revenue forecast. We expect to end this fiscal year with the largest cash reserve in the history of the state, approximately $575 million."
Economic development incentives within the Nebraska Advantage program have reaped results. "Over the past two and one-half years, 150 companies decided to locate, or expand, invest more than $5 billion and create more than 13,500 new jobs in our state," says Heineman. "Last year, we built upon that by passing the Nebraska Super Advantage." To qualify for these additional benefits of Nebraska Super Advantage, companies need to create 75 new jobs and make a $10 million capital investment, or create at least 50 new jobs and make a $100 million investment in capital. The new tier provides tax incentives to businesses creating new jobs paying at least 150 percent of the state average wage or 200 percent of the average wage in the county where the business is located, whichever is greatest. Additionally, Richard Baier, director of the Department of Economic Development, lauds the state's refundable research and development tax credit that offers credits "even if you have no tax liability in Nebraska. That means, if you are a startup company, and you have no tax liability for five or six years, you will still get credit for your R&D efforts in our state."
Certain targeted sectors such as value-added agriculture for food and fuel, as well as transportation, warehousing, and logistics, are expanding. With Nebraska ranking second in the United States for total capacity of ethanol production (according to Ethanol Producer magazine), the state's bioscience firms continually seek new processes for corn and cellulosic ethanol production. In addition, "We also continue to see growth in major finance and insurance operations," says Baier. Taking their cue from firms such as Aflac and Pacific Life, insurance companies are redomesticating their corporate charters to Nebraska "to take advantage of the lowest insurance premium tax and the best regulatory environment in the country," says Baier. "During the past year, Land America relocated its domestic charter and additional companies continue to explore that opportunity."
State leaders encourage foreign direct investment and exports through reverse trade missions. "I have traveled all over the world, inviting business leaders and trade officials in such places as the Far East, Europe, Canada, and Mexico to come to Nebraska," says Heineman. Approximately 355 foreign owned companies now operate in the state.