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Courtney Dentlinger of Norfolk will be Nebraska's new director of economic development.

Dentlinger, 39, executive director of the Norfolk Area Economic Development Council, was chosen from among three finalists whose names the governor's office announced last week following a privately funded national search.

“Courtney will do an outstanding job working with our regional and statewide partners," Gov. Pete Ricketts said in a news release Tuesday. "She understands Nebraska, and will endeavor tirelessly to recruit the businesses and investment we need to continue to grow good-paying jobs in our state for the next generation.”

Dentlinger, who will start Jan. 11 and make $145,000 a year, called it an honor to join the governor's team.

“From our workforce to our pro-business climate, Nebraska is well-positioned to attract new investments," she said. "I look forward to partnering with the governor and the entire economic development community across our state.”

Dentlinger built a new economic development department for the city of Norfolk "from the ground up," the governor's office said in a news release.

Before that, she was executive director of development for Northeast Community College in Norfolk. There, she managed a $13 million campaign to build a new nursing college, a partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Dentlinger earned a bachelor's degree from Wayne State College and a law degree from George Washington University Law School.

She is replacing Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, the state's previous economic development director, whom Ricketts fired nine months after hiring. The decision followed complaints from Nebraska's business community that Hicks-Sorensen was too focused on administration and didn't do enough to market the state.

Jorgenson Consulting Inc. was paid for the earlier search using private donations through the Omaha Chamber Foundation. Helping find a replacement is part of Jorgenson's contract in the event that one of its hires doesn't work out.

The other two candidates were Mary Lynn Fernau of Pearland, Texas, and Nathan Mick of Lexington, Kentucky. All three have Nebraska ties.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7234 or zpluhacek@journalstar.com. On Twitter @zachamiLJS.

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Assistant city editor

Zach Pluhacek is an assistant city editor.

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