LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts is back to searching for another economic development director after Director Dave Rippe announced plans to step down Aug. 9.
Rippe, who has led the Nebraska Department of Economic Development for 18 months, will return to his hometown of Hastings, where he plans to work in real estate and talent development.
In making the announcement on Monday, Ricketts praised the work Rippe has done, saying he helped the state grow and contributed to winning national economic development awards, including the Governor’s Cup for the most economic development projects per capita of any state for a third straight time.
“Under his leadership, we have attracted investments from companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon,” the governor said. “He is incredibly talented, and I expect him to be a huge asset to growing our state in his future endeavors.”
The announcement comes a few days after the annual Governor’s Economic Development Summit in Lincoln.
Rippe was the third economic development director for the Ricketts administration. He succeeded Courtney Dentlinger, who started working for the state in January 2016. She left nearly two years later to take a job lobbying for the Nebraska Public Power District.
Dentlinger replaced Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, who was dismissed in October 2015. Hicks-Sorensen had been hired from Wisconsin with the help of a national recruitment firm.
Ricketts announced Monday that he will name an interim director when Rippe leaves.
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The car rental business
Appropriately located in a former horse stable, the Ford Livery Company at 1314 Howard Street was America's first car rental company, dreamed up in 1916 by Joe Saunders. He and his brothers expanded their company, later renamed Saunders Drive It Yourself System, to 56 cities by 1926. They sold to Avis in 1955. Read more
These chocolates, a Nebraska staple, are sold throughout the world. They’ve been produced in Greenwood for three generations.
In St. Paul, Nebraska, during the late 1940s, a woman named Dorothy Lynch developed a sweet and tangy dressing. Community members loved it so much that they brought their own bottles and jugs to have them filled with the popular concoction. In 1964, Lynch sold the recipe to Tasty-Toppings so it could be widely manufactured. Every bottle of Dorothy Lynch now comes from a production facility in Duncan.
Vise-Grip locking pliers
These days, the pliers are made in China, but the handy tool was made at a plant in Dewitt, Nebraska, until 2008. William Petersen, a blacksmith in DeWitt, came up with the idea for locking pliers in the early 1920s. He patented his first wrench in 1921, but the first Vise-Grip wrench with a locking handle was not patented until 1924. Petersen originally sold the pliers from the trunk of his car, but later formed a company and began manufacturing Vise-Grips in DeWitt in 1938. The company was acquired by Irwin Tools in 1993.
The chair lift
Union Pacific engineer (not the train kind) James Curran came up with the design for the ski chairlift in 1936. He was inspired by hook-equipped banana conveyor systems that loaded cargo ships in the tropics. The first chairlifts were installed at a ski resort in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1936 and 1937.
In 1958, Cliff Hillegass was working at Nebraska Book Co. when he met a Canadian man who published study guides. Hillegass acquired the American rights to the product and produced them under the name CliffsNotes. He continued to develop more, working from Lincoln. The company would go on to produce reference guides for subjects other than literature, saving the academic lives of millions of students time and again.
Daytona 500 trophy
The road to a Daytona 500 trophy literally goes through Omaha. The coveted winner’s award is sculpted by hand in the Cornhusker State by John Lajba, who crafts a replica of the Harley J. Earl trophy each year to be given to the winner of the “Great American Race.” The original trophy, named for automobile designer and second NASCAR commissioner Harley Earl, is kept on display at the Daytona International Speedway.
When blacksmith-turned-knifemaker Frank J. Richtig made a name for himself among knife enthusiasts by dramatically demonstrating his knives. Using a hammer, he would pound the blade completely through a ¾-inch-thick steel strap. Then he would slice a piece of paper with the knife that had cut through steel. Richtig’s feat was possible because the steel had been hardened through a process he both discovered and took to his grave in 1977. Richtig’s knives — many of which are in private collections — have been valued at more than $4,000 each.
Inspiration for the chocolate-coated ice cream bar came from a candy store in Onawa, Iowa, in 1920. But it wasn’t until owner and creator Christian Kent Nelson took his invention to a Nebraska chocolatier named Russell Stover that the Eskimo Pie went into mass production. Many variations of the delicious treat are available in grocery and convenience stores worldwide.
Collapsible voting booths
Nebraska native Elizabeth Robb Douglas came up with the idea for a collapsible voting booth. The idea for a collapsible voting booth came to her in a dream in 1905. That dream launched the Douglas Manufacturing Company, which sold collapsible booths nationwide until it closed in 2016.
The Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) Barrier was developed at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln between 1998 and 2002. Dean Sicking led a team of engineers to create the special safety wall for racetracks, which reduces the danger to drivers in a crash. The system was installed on many IndyCar and NASCAR circuit tracks.
Frozen TV dinners
In the 1950s, Swanson met the needs of busy American families with the creation of a meal that was easy and fast to prepare in single portions. Several other frozen dinners had been developed by other companies, but Omaha-based Swanson developed the idea on a nationwide scale. Though it’s widely assumed that the term “TV dinner” came from families eating the frozen meals in front of the television at dinner time, food historians say the name came from the tray’s original shape, which resembled a 1950s TV.