When it comes to Lincoln and Nebraska’s place in today’s global marketplace, one thing is clear — the Good Life has a lot to offer.
Making that case to a national and international audience is another thing.
In an increasingly connected marketplace, local businesses are able to reach untapped customers in the U.S. and abroad.
At Licorice International, delicacies in all flavors are shipped worldwide, thanks in part to its unique business model and, of course, the internet.
“We entertain people from all over the world,” said co-owner Elizabeth Erlandson, who runs the business with co-owner Ardith Stuertz. “... We’ve developed our internet commerce really well; it’s really a smooth operation.”
The two purchased the company from a New York confectioner who sold licorice by mail. They entered the retail business in 2003, operating out of a space in the College View neighborhood. Two years later, the store moved to its current location in the Haymarket.
The shop’s assortment of licorices from all over the world — countries like Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands — attracts licorice lovers at home and abroad who are looking to track down hard-to-find flavors.
“People who are looking for licorice, they find us,” Erlandson said.
Licorice is enticing, but Nebraska is chock-full of its own wares made right here in the state that attract customers nationwide.
Almost all Nebraskans could recite many by memory: Dorothy Lynch salad dressing, Valentino’s pizza sauce, Misty’s seasoning, Bakers chocolates.
These distinctly Nebraska products line the shelves at the From Nebraska Gift Shop in the Haymarket, which sells and promotes products made in the state, in addition to travel items for visitors staying downtown.
Jim and Barb Ballard, owners of James Arthur Vineyards, bought the shop in 2014 after they opened a tasting room adjoining the business.
The store drums up a lot business from customers around the country who are looking for a taste of home, or to visitors who want to snatch a piece of Nebraska before they leave.
“People are proud of Nebraska,” Barb Ballard said. “We’re showing it in our sales.”
Seeing “Made in the United States,” or “Made in Nebraska,” is a huge selling point for many local shoppers, she said.
“They’ll turn a product over and if they see ‘Made in China,’ they’ll put it down,” she said.
What you export is perhaps just as important as what you import. The Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, working with the local Chamber of Commerce, seeks to connect Nebraska with national and international companies that are looking to expand.
In 2017, members of the public-private collaborative traveled with Gov. Pete Ricketts to China and Japan as part of a trade delegation pitching Nebraska to international buyers. In addition to these trade missions, the partnership works closely with employers and companies headquartered internationally.
“We continue to see opportunities for companies to relocate or expand here through some of the international work that we do,” said Pat Haverty, vice president of the group.
Haverty said the partnership fielded 33 business leads in 2017, compared with 25 in 2016. A lot of interest has come from South Korea recently, including Korean food companies that plan on expanding at Nebraska Innovation Campus.
In January, a trade delegation traveled to the Asian country, meeting with business leaders and other officials. South Korea is Nebraska’s fifth largest export partner.