Regents workshop focuses on economic competitiveness
Whitehouse intro Regents workshop focuses on economic competitiveness

Six years ago, Gallup began conducting its World Poll, a data collection effort aimed at measuring the opinions of the world’s 7 billion people. Gallup committed to conducting the poll for 100 years.

But already, the World Poll has uncovered one of Gallup’s most important discoveries yet.

In the words of CEO Jim Clifton: What the whole world wants is a good job.

That critical discovery is the foundation for Clifton’s new book, “The Coming Jobs War.” In his book, Clifton says that the desire for a good job is the current will of the world – and that every leader, whether elected official, military leader or university president, must recognize what’s on the hearts and minds of their constituents and make job creation their primary mission.

Clifton discussed “The Coming Jobs War” during a recent University of Nebraska Board of Regents workshop focused on innovation and economic competitiveness. The workshop, attended by business leaders, entrepreneurs, faculty and others, included discussion on issues such as job creation, entrepreneurship, talent development and the role public universities can play in these efforts.

Appearing via videoconference, Clifton – a University of Nebraska alum – said the world today faces a potentially devastating shortfall of 1.8 billion good jobs. The global war to create these jobs, he said, will determine the leader of the free world.

Clifton said that universities have a critical role to play in economic growth – a theme that was echoed throughout the workshop during panel discussions and in a lunch speech from Gov. Dave Heineman. In his book, Clifton writes that “universities have, by design, the best ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation.” He says the U.S. higher education system remains the best in the world and the big breakthroughs of the future – those that will create good jobs and spur the economy – will originate in and around the country’s leading universities.

From left, Dan Shundoff, president, CEO & founder of Intellicom in Kearney; Charles Hull, co-founder and managing director of Archrival | Dachis Group in Lincoln; and Shane Farritor, entrepreneur and UNL professor of mechanical engineering, participate in a panel discussion on job creation and talent development.
From left, Dan Shundoff, president, CEO & founder of Intellicom in Kearney; Charles Hull, co-founder and managing director of Archrival | Dachis Group in Lincoln; and Shane Farritor, entrepreneur and UNL professor of mechanical engineering, participate in a panel discussion on job creation and talent development. View Larger
Board of Regents Chairman Bob Whitehouse makes opening remarks at the workshop, held at Nebraska Educational Telecommunications in Lincoln.
Board of Regents Chairman Bob Whitehouse makes opening remarks at the workshop, held at Nebraska Educational Telecommunications in Lincoln. View Larger
NU President James B. Milliken delivers remarks at the Board workshop on economic competitiveness.
NU President James B. Milliken delivers remarks at the Board workshop on economic competitiveness. View Larger

Gov. Dave Heineman holds up a copy of Gallup CEO Jim Clifton's new book
Gov. Dave Heineman holds up a copy of Gallup CEO Jim Clifton's new book "The Coming Jobs War" during his luncheon remarks. Gov. Heineman is the chair of the National Governors Association and has identified "Growing State Economies" as his signature initiative for the year. View Larger
From left, Gov. Heineman visits with David Conrad of NUtech Ventures; Prem Paul, UNL vice chancellor for research and economic development; and Wendy Birdsall, president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, following his lunch remarks.
From left, Gov. Heineman visits with David Conrad of NUtech Ventures; Prem Paul, UNL vice chancellor for research and economic development; and Wendy Birdsall, president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, following his lunch remarks. View Larger

A high priority for NU

Talent development and entrepreneurship are high priorities for the University of Nebraska and the university is committed to taking its efforts to the next level, building on success stories that have already emerged from its four campuses.

For example, workshop panelist Charles Hull, a graduate of the UNL College of Architecture, co-founded and is managing director of Archrival | DachisGroup, a successful youth brand marketing agency. Another panelist, Shane Farritor, a professor of mechanical engineering at UNL, conducts research in robotics and design that has led to the creation of two venture-funded companies, Virtual Incision and MRail. Farritor is currently leading a new “Innovation Seminar Series” to foster creativity and new thinking approaches.

Farritor noted that a person who wants to be innovative needs to be both different and good. And success depends on a person’s ability to share his or her particular gift, whether it’s in math, marketing, or something else, he said – pointing out that if someone tried to identify talent based only on, say, IQ or math ability alone, she or he would miss Steve Jobs.

Panelist Vanessa Brown, vice president for human resources at Valmont Industries Inc., offered wise advice that students and their mentors should remember. It’s critical for young people to try new things – like traveling abroad – so they can grow as individuals and in their careers, Brown said.

Governor: Collaboration vital

In luncheon remarks, Gov. Heineman highlighted Nebraska’s relatively strong economy and said the state has a “remarkable opportunity” to advance even further. The state’s unemployment rate is 4.2 percent, less than half the national average – prompting leaders of other states to ask what Nebraska’s secret is, the Governor said.

Gov. Heineman is the current chair of the National Governors Association. He has identified “Growing State Economies” as his signature initiative for the year. Successful economic growth will require continued collaboration between state government, the university, and the business community, he said.

The Governor said the state needs to continue to be aggressive in keeping its talented young people. His new Talent & Innovation Initiative includes an internship program that is helping to connect college students with employers across the state – which helps businesses develop the next generation of leaders while also putting young people on a career path in Nebraska.

Gov. Heineman also said Nebraska needs more entrepreneurs and risk-takers to keep its economy thriving. He said every young person in the state should receive at least two years of college – preferably four.

The Governor’s national chairmanship coincides with NU President James B. Milliken’s chairmanship of the Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity (CICEP). CICEP is a part of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities dedicated to understanding and promoting the role of universities in economic development. Milliken assumed the CICEP chairmanship during APLU’s annual meeting this month.

Among Milliken’s goals as CICEP chair is engaging the nation’s governors in the two groups’ shared goal of economic growth. Milliken will host CICEP’s meeting next summer in Omaha – not long after Gov. Heineman hosts a regional NGA summit there. Both meetings offer opportunities to showcase success stories at the university and across Nebraska.

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