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Economic Development Partners: The Nebraska Diplomats

By Governor Dave Heineman

I want to highlight an organization that plays an important role in our business recruitment efforts here in Nebraska. The Nebraska Diplomats is the largest economic development organization in Nebraska with more than 375 business and community leaders from across the state.

For more than 40 years, members of the Nebraska Diplomats have worked to grow Nebraska by promoting opportunities for business and industry to locate in our state. Their mission is to help build the state’s economy by supporting the business recruitment efforts of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and working to improve Nebraska’s business climate and competitiveness.

Diplomats have a unique perspective on what our state has to offer businesses. Its members are executives and business leaders who live and work in Nebraska. The current class of Nebraska Diplomats represents nearly 50 communities and Diplomats presidents in recent years have come from Alliance, Aurora, Columbus, Crete, Grand Island, Lincoln, Norfolk, Omaha, and Scottsbluff. They are leaders of a variety of industries based in Nebraska, including energy and hospitality companies, manufacturers, and transportation and logistics companies.

As part of the program, a Diplomats member commits to making contact with several business leaders in other states in an effort to interest new companies in doing business in Nebraska. As business leaders who know firsthand the benefits of doing businesses in Nebraska, they add credibility to the efforts of the professional economic developers who work for the state and local communities. Diplomats host business prospects and special guests visiting the state and help local leaders prepare for visits from prospective companies.

Through face-to-face meetings and personal connections, Nebraska Diplomats help expand the number of contacts the State of Nebraska can make in a given year, which is particularly helpful in pursuing opportunities overseas. Many Diplomats represent companies with business interests in international markets. As part of their regular business visits, Diplomats commit some of their time to build relationships on behalf of Nebraska.

During one weekend each fall, the Nebraska Diplomats invite guests and prospects from across the country and around the world to visit the state and attend events including roundtable discussions with CEOs and business consultants, tours of Nebraska businesses and communities, and a tailgate hosted at the Governor’s Residence followed by a Husker game at Memorial Stadium.

Many of the special guests that attend the Passport to Nebraska Weekend are corporate headquarter CEOs from around the country that have businesses in Nebraska. We thank them for spending time in Nebraska, and we will work with them when they are thinking about expanding their business, or if they decide to move their headquarters to Nebraska.

While other states have partnerships with business leaders, few have as coordinated effort as the Nebraska Diplomats. Another visitor shared this comment: “We were impressed with the depth of support from the Nebraska Diplomats. It is the most effective organization of its kind we are aware of in the U.S.”

Having business executives and business recruiters work together gives Nebraska an edge in selling our state to prospective companies. I appreciate the outreach efforts of the Nebraska Diplomats. They play an essential role in letting other companies know that Nebraska is the right place to pursue new opportunities.