Nebraska DED E-News Update

18 Dec 2013

State News

Wishing you a happy, safe and blessed Holiday Season from the DED Staff!

Are dreams of new economic growth and development dancing in your head this season? Well ho, ho, ho…here’s looking back on a successful 2013!

Several targeted industry clusters were the driving force behind Nebraska’s formula for successfully rebounding, and then growing and sustaining a healthy and thriving economy. The spotlight for 2013 was on Software and Technology, Bio Sciences and Technology, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics, Manufacturing, and Research and Development and Engineering.

The Nebraska State Legislature continued to refine and simplify the Nebraska Advantage Act, a tiered incentive program that continues to be a major factor in attracting business leaders and entrepreneurs to locate or expand companies here.

For example, the Nebraska Advantage Act Tier 2-Large Data Center incentive (requiring a minimal investment of $200 million and creation of at least 30 full-time positions) has proven to be a huge draw for large data centers.

Specifically, Sarpy County welcomed Travelers Companies, Inc., a leading property casualty insurer, which broke ground in early November for a $200 million, 190,000 sq. ft. facility in the 140-acre Sarpy County Power Park. The company’s nine-month vetting process evaluated more than 90 sites before settling on the Nebraska site.

Travelers now joins a growing list of data centers in Sarpy County, including Fidelity Investments, Yahoo!, Cabela’s, and two CoSentry locations, further solidifying the state’s standing as a stronghold for continued growth and development of data centers.

In fact, CoSentry a co-location data center headquartered in Omaha, recently completed a 15,000 sq. ft. addition at its Midlands Data Center in Papillion.

What’s more, Yahoo! demonstrated further confidence in the state by announcing that it was expanding its staff in La Vista, Neb., by as many as 100 new positions in customer care, integration and logistics.

Also in the Software and Technology industry, factoring in CenturyLink’s multi-million dollar investment in upgrading its high-speed fiber network up to one Gigabit per second (Gbps) elevating Omaha to one of the fastest broadband cities in the nation, the state could very well see an upsurge in new business and expansion announcements.

One company that’s sure to reap future benefits is DirectCall Transfer Center, a patient logistics center that recently opened a new Omaha headquarters, expanding from 2,500 sq. ft. to 11,000 sq. ft. with more than 70 consoles. The Center, which represents several national prestigious hospitals, medical centers and health systems, projects 125-325 new jobs during the next three years.

Elsewhere in the state, Phynd Technologies, a software firm based in Dallas, Tex., expanded to Kearney where it’s launching a new solution for hospitals and health care providers. The company will create 18 new positions during the next two years.

Prime Communications of Elkhorn, Neb., received a $50,000 Nebraska Innovation Fund grant to further explore and develop products in its expertise of networking, video surveillance, wireless, and security.

In the Bio Sciences and Technology and R&D and Engineering arenas, Laurel BioComposite, LLC, in Laurel, Neb., built a new 20,000 sq. ft. facility to house its production of Bio-Res™ a filler or additive created from bio-based feedstock, distiller grains, and is a by-product of the ethanol process.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center and/or UNeMed Corporation, UNMC’s technology transfer office in Omaha have been involved in projects involving Japan and China in the BioSolutions field.

Japan-based Taisho Pharmaceutical Company is sponsoring additional research by a renowned UNMC microbiologist to find ways to fight infections through tiny proteins called peptides. With the use of a database, peptides can be engineered and custom-built to defeat specific superbugs, such as MRSA or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and fight viral and fungal infections.

Technology developed at UNMC is providing the base for a new Chinese biotechnology start-up company, Bohe Biotech. UNeMed Corporation signed a deal with Bohe Biotech to employ commercial uses of a novel derivative of menthol, an ingredient often found in oral hygiene products.

Enbido, Inc., of Omaha received a $100,000 R&D grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development to commercialize a rapid bio-waste degradation technology that works 1-1/2-2 times faster than the next best industry practices found in Europe or North America. When commercialized, this technology will lead to benefits including rapid disposal of massive bio-waste, landfill space conservation, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, more rapid and greater energy generation and enhanced energy security.

In the Manufacturing industry, Invest Nebraska, a state-funded venture development organization, invested $500,000 in Virtual Incision, a Lincoln, Neb., company that is developing a patented robotic surgical device that enters a patient’s body through a single incision.

Airlite Plastics Co. in Omaha began work on a 43,000 sq. ft. expansion at its facility near Eppley Airfield. The company also has committed to invest $57.8 million and add 117 jobs during the next five years. The company produces containers and lid for food packaging, drink cups and lids, polystyrene coolers, and custom plastic products.

The Transportation, Distribution and Logistics industry also saw significant investment in Nebraska. Baldwin Filters in Kearney has broken ground for a new 400,000 sq. ft. distribution center. The center is expected to be operational in summer 2014.

On the heels of its $1 billion infrastructure improvements and expansion projects in 2012, Union Pacific Railroad has committed an additional $9.4 million for maintenance and rail capacity. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, which spent $202 million on similar improvements and expansions in 2012, committed an additional $110 million for maintenance and rail capacity expansion projects in Nebraska.

That Nebraska rated second in the nation in Pollina’s Ten Most Business-Friendly States for 2013 comes as little surprise to the many CEOs, business executives and entrepreneurs who have purposely chosen to locate their new businesses, or expand their existing businesses here.

We’d be remiss, if we didn’t take a moment to thank long-time DED employee Gary Hamer who is retiring effective end of December. Hamer was hired as a development consultant in the department’s Community and Rural Development Division (CRD) in October 1979. He was later named deputy director of CRD and remained in that position until November 1984 when he resigned to pursue other opportunities. In September 1997, he was rehired as a financial assistance manager in DED’s Existing Business Assistance Division. Later, he was appointed deputy director of the department. Join us in wishing Gary well as he embarks on his next life adventure.

With Gary’s retirement, Lara Huskey will become the Department’s Deputy Director. Lara has been with DED since 1996.

On behalf of the staff at DED, we look forward to working with you toward a progressive, productive 2014,

Catherine D. Lang