The 8th Annual Federal Legislative Summit, the largest and most anticipated policy summit of the year, drew over 350 people to the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland on Thursday, August 4, 2016. The summit represents a joint effort among the Lincoln and Omaha Chambers of Commerce and the state.
Nebraska’s senators and representatives returned to the state to address business leaders and policy influencers about their work in Washington and how it will impact Nebraskans. The main message from the overall Congressional report was clear. Sens. Deb Fischer (R) Ben Sasse (R); Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R) and Adrian Smith (R); and Rep. Brad Ashford (D) all elaborated on the importance of reaching “across the aisle” to work with state leaders, business leaders and each other to get things done in Washington, D.C. “We have a unique form of government, and it’s part of who we are,” Ashford said of Nebraska’s nonpartisan unicameral Legislature. “When we come to Washington, we do work together.”
Governor Pete Ricketts took the summit’s stage to talk about the state’s efforts to secure funds to grow Offutt Air Force base and his continued mission to bring tax relief to Nebraskans.
A large portion of the presentations centered around the state’s talent attraction and retention efforts, and a smooth operating system within the government to optimize its chances of success. “The name of the game is teamwork,” said Ricketts. Director of the Department of Economic Development, Courtney Detlinger told her personal story of moving out of Nebraska looking for something new and different, only to realize the opportunity and happiness she left behind which prompted her to return to “the good life.”
However this mission has many hurdles and trends to reverse as the presentations revealed. David Drozd of the Center for Public Affiars Research introduced the state’s problem with “brain drain”, educated workers leaving the state in pursuit of higher paying jobs. Of millennials leaving Nebraska after graduation, Detlinger said, “We have a chance to keep them here or at the very least plant seeds with them to bring them back.”