Lincoln is a model for the rest of the state when it comes to economic development and quality of life.

That was the assessment Wednesday of Dave Rippe, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

Rippe said that Lincoln has chosen to be a "destination of choice" for workers and others with its history of investing in infrastructure and amenities such as parks, trails and schools.

"Lincoln, whether you realize it or not ... is a model for communities around our state," Rippe told a crowd at the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce's "Face the Chamber" luncheon at the Country Club of Lincoln.

Rippe, who grew up near Malcolm, went to both Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and spent time working as a legislative analyst in Lincoln, could be a bit biased. But he said even during the eight years he spent as executive director for the Hastings Economic Development Corporation, he heard from people about how impressed they were with Lincoln.

He also said it's no coincidence that Lincoln has seen more than $1 billion in private investment over the past several years, and it's not a coincidence that state and federal officials are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to build the South Beltway.

He also pointed out that in the past three years, the state has invested more than $2.5 million in Lincoln companies including Hudl, Nelnet, Spreetail and Bulu Box through job-training programs, an internship program and building-site assistance.

"You're doing things correctly," said Rippe, who was named as state economic development director exactly four months ago Wednesday.

He cautioned, though, that city officials can't rest on their laurels and always need to be thinking about how to stay ahead of the game.

During a question and answer session after his speech, Rippe was asked about the future of the Nebraska Advantage Act, the state's main business tax incentive program.

He said the economic development landscape has changed since passage of the Advantage Act and hinted that state officials are working on replacing the law when it expires in 2020 with something else.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.


Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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