Blueprint Nebraska visits NP

Mid-Plains Community College President Ryan Purdy, middle, responds to input from the audience Tuesday as he participates in a panel of community business and education leaders at the Blueprint Nebraska forum at the Holiday Inn Express.

State business and industry leaders with Blueprint Nebraska are seeking to coordinate ideas with the common goal of making sure Nebraska’s future continues to get better.

The group hosted a public forum Tuesday at the Holiday Inn Express to gather input.

“Blueprint Nebraska is a private-sector-led effort to create a plan for economic growth, competitiveness and prosperity of all Nebraska,” said Jim Smith, executive director. “All Nebraska is important in this process, and greater Nebraska has to have a win out of this process for this to be successful.”

North Platte community members from all disciplines, including business and education, participated in the forum. A panel was led by the co-chairs of Blueprint Nebraska, Lance Fritz, CEO of Union Pacific Corp., and Owen Palm, CEO of 21st Century Holdings.

North Platte participants in the panel were Mid-Plains Community College President Ryan Purdy; Justin Fote, an ag producer from Paxton; Mel McNea, CEO at Great Plains Health; and North Platte Mayor Dwight Livingston.

There are 16 industry councils charged with digging deep into their respective areas, ranging from agriculture, manufacturing and megasites, all the way to communities, diversity and inclusion, and the arts.

“Conclusions reached by the industry councils will be merged into a single report,” Smith said, “one with an actionable plan.”

He said the target date for the report is early to mid-summer.

Fritz explained the various aspects of the initiative.

“The ‘what’ is literally a blueprint that’s meant to be able to be used by elected officials, local communities,” and various other entities, Fritz said. “So that we can have a road map for how Nebraska can be all it could be.”

Input from the audience included encouragement to create a methodology for tourism, support for the arts, and a suggestion to tap into the baby-boomer generation as a resource other than greeters at Walmart.

North Platte Public Schools Superintendent Ron Hanson brought 16 high school seniors who make up the Student Advisory Council. They were given the opportunity to speak as well.

One student said, “There aren’t as many jobs you can use a degree for in North Platte.” The unidentified student said that at a recent job fair, “all the jobs were geared to the railroad, post office, and the job market (in North Platte) is just not what I want to do.”

Smith asked that participants encourage as many people as possible to take part in a survey on the Blueprint Nebraska website at

“These efforts, along with other forms of outreach and input, will give us a much clearer picture of our state’s economic health, its possibilities, and what other groups are already doing to advance Nebraska’s future,” Smith said.

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