Investing in our Future with NExT

For eight years, I served on the Nebraska Economic Development Commission. I had a front row seat for the challenges of investing in the future of our Great State. Now we stand at the crossroads of a major opportunity to create over 8,000 permanent high‐wage, high‐skills, high‐demand jobs just 1‐2 hours away from our corner of SE Nebraska. Plus, nearly 33,000 construction jobs to make it happen – and these need to be local area construction workers. I’m talking about the public‐private partnership to build a 1,200‐bed facility on the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) campus that would serve to be a significant addition to the already existing Nebraska Biocontainment Unit.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the Nebraska Transformational Project (NExT) would generate $211 million in new state tax revenue.
Over the next decade, it would add $1.3 billion to the State’s economy. As a 30‐year small business owner dealing with real estate, I also understand the potential that this has to significantly boost property values. As a corner of Nebraska that competes with three other states – Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, we need every competitive advantage possible to strengthen Nebraska’s hand. I strongly agree with those who call this a ‘once‐in‐a‐generation‐opportunity’ to transform our state.

This new project would make UNMC the central hub for biodefense in the US. This new all‐hazard response facility would put Eastern Nebraska on the front lines of responding to natural disasters, chemical spills, power plant meltdowns and bioterrorism responses. A significant section would
be devoted to radiation exposure, serious burns or chemical injuries. UNMC would become the only burn unit in the country to be able to simultaneously handle 600 burn patients. The new addition would continue Nebraska’s leadership in responding to biological hazards like Ebola and other highly infectious diseases like COVID19. In addition to clinical care, this new project also invests in research facilities to educate the next generation of health care providers. The new buildings would utilize
technology to allow telehealth, both for disaster areas and for rural Nebraska, all while lowering operating costs.

NExT comes with a hefty $2.6 billion price tag and would likely be the largest economic development project in Nebraska history. It would
require a $300 million investment of state funds along with substantial private funds in order to trigger a $1.6 billion federal investment. But further adding to the attractiveness of this particular project is the fact that this UNMC hospital won’t later choose to leave Nebraska as some big
businesses have done in the past.

The Omaha World Herald has reported that our federal delegation is up to the task of bringing this project to Nebraska. But they need committed partners in the Unicameral to help move Nebraska onto the cutting edge of tomorrow’s future. We can’t afford to be a penny wise and pound foolish during current budget negotiations. As the next State Senator from SE Nebraska, I am committed to prioritizing funding for this great project and using my real experience to be a strong vocal advocate for economic investment.

To dialogue with me about this important issue or to learn more, visit my website at: www.PalmtagForNebraska.com.