Nebraska Governor Candidates Discuss How To Expand State Workforce

Feb. 3, 2022, 6:33 p.m. ·

Logo that says NE Chamber: Gubernatorial Candidates Forum
The forum was an opportunity for gubernatorial candidates to answer three questions about their business priorities. (Screenshot via News Channel Nebraska)

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Six candidates running for Nebraska state governor spoke on stage at the Lincoln Cornhusker Marriott Hotel about their business priorities in the Nebraska Chamber Gubernatorial Candidates Forum Thursday.

Moderator Tara Lea asked three questions. One of them focused on how candidates would grow Nebraska’s workforce and attract young professionals to stay in the state. State Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue, the lone Democrat, said they need to work with businesses to help them show 18-to-34-year-old Nebraskans why they should stay.

"That means allowing people be it to work from home or to adjust their hours, provide childcare," Blood said.

Falls City businessman Charles Herbster said Nebraska has a lot to offer and it takes an intentional method to make sure young people don’t leave the state.

"We need to market the great things that we have in Nebraska," Herbster said.

The answer is investing in economic development and entrepreneurs, not just in metro cities, said former state senator Theresa Thibodeau.

"In my administration, it would be one of my top priorities to fix that, and make sure that we can bring jobs and economic development across the entire state," Thibodeau said.

State Sen. Brett Lindstrom agreed.

"They [Millennials and Gen-Z] want amenities. They want walkability, they want to be on Main Street, and that doesn't mean just Omaha and Lincoln," Lindstrom said.

But Jim Pillen, a University of Nebraska regent from Columbus, said communities need to figure out business issues for themselves.

"They need leadership to be inspired to do things they can't, together that they can do, individually, they can't, and they need government out of their hair," Pillen said. "And that's what I'll do as your governor."

Omaha I.T. manager Breland Ridenour said they need to support nonviolent criminals and veterans who want to get back into the workforce.

"We need to get them involved in trades, and getting training, education, and get them established into our workforce," he said.

The primaries will be this May.