Weekly Column

Nebraskans are hard-working, resilient, and innovative. One of the many reasons I love traveling the state is that I get to see that spirit on full display in communities across Nebraska.

Just this past week, I had the opportunity to visit with many entrepreneurial Nebraskans and see how their efforts are creating exciting new economic opportunities. 

In North Platte, for example, I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Sustainable Beef – a new project to create a regional processing plant owned by producers themselves. As evidenced by the name, the company will also leverage the best stewards of our environment – family farmers and ranchers – to promote environmentally and economically sustainable practices.

Seeing as Nebraska is the beef state, it follows that it would be our state’s ranchers and entrepreneurs who would create such an exciting opportunity for the sector. When operational, it’s estimated Sustainable Beef will support nearly 900 direct jobs and generate roughly $1.1 billion in annual economic impact.

It was an honor to participate in the ceremony celebrating this important milestone. There is no doubt that Sustainable Beef’s efforts will help grow the beef supply chain, promote stewardship of our natural resources, and support rural communities.

Later in the week, I had the opportunity to visit one of BD’s manufacturing facilities in Holdrege. BD is a medical technology company, and at their Holdrege plant they make special types of syringes. Their modern facility, with advanced equipment like robotics to facilitate high production rates, was impressive. BD is just one of many manufacturers who are investing in small town Nebraska.

Red Cloud – another community we visited – is utilizing an entirely different approach to their local economy. Red Cloud is the home of the Willa Cather Center, which attracts visitors from around the country. This means that tourism is a crucial pillar of their economic development.

Walking down Main Street with local officials, I got to see all the great work the community has recently done to revitalize their downtown area, promote local small businesses, and attract new investments. Red Cloud recently began construction on a new boutique hotel, which should help serve additional tourists who make their way to the community to learn about Willa Cather and her incredible literary legacy. 

Innovation and new economic activity can take many forms. While in the state last week, I also had the chance to highlight how traditional infrastructure – that’s roads, bridges, airports, and drinking water systems – is vital to communities and their future.

In York, for example, the community has begun work on projects to improve pedestrian safety, including the construction of overpass over Highway 81, street curbs, and new school crossing lights. These investments will help to ensure children can walk safely to and from school. I enjoyed meeting with local leaders to discuss the project and the tangible benefits the bipartisan infrastructure law, which I voted for, is bringing to Nebraska.

At another event in Kearney, I joined airport officials and local leaders in a ribbon cutting celebrating the arrival of a new flight service. Denver Air Connection, which is stepping in for SkyWest, will operate a number of nonstop, round-trip flights to Denver International Airport every week. Communities like Kearney rely on their local airport to promote economic activity and provide the region with reliable access to the transportation network. This is why I was thrilled to announce in January that the Kearney airport would receive over $1 million to support upgrade and improvement projects.

But even with that physical infrastructure in place, it’s still critical that rural communities have access to the Essential Air Service and the resources it provides. I have worked closely with the Dept. of Transportation to emphasize what the Essential Air Service does for rural communities across Nebraska. The new Denver Air Connection service is a great resolution to the issue, and I am excited to see the Kearney community continue to thrive. 

In every corner of Nebraska, you can find entrepreneurial individuals working hard to make their community a better place. I look forward to continuing to collaborate on these important developments and pursuing policies that will drive Nebraska’s economy for years to come. 

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

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