November 26, 2014

Nebraska Crossing Outlets one year anniversary

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary at Nebraska Crossing Outlets in Gretna. Developer Rod Yates says they have good reason to celebrate. He says when they opened one year ago capacity was at 80%. Since then they have added approximately 60,000 square feet of new brands.

Yates says in the first year they marked $140-million in sales and four million customers have visited Nebraska Crossing Outlets.

To help celebrate the one year milestone there are several special events, including a fashion show, this weekend.

Business survey reveals optimism in Nebraska

workerA new survey of Nebraska businesses sees some optimism breaking through.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bureau of Business Research Director Eric Thompson says the bureau’s latest survey discloses an upward trend.

“Nebraska has a much lower unemployment rate, so households have better spending power here in Nebraska,” Thompson tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “So, those good economic conditions have been translated into an optimistic outlook on the part of business this year.”

Nebraska businesses seem optimistic about the future, though they do have a growing worry.

Thompson at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says, in general, businesses are bullish on the economy, yet they have an over-riding concern.

“Increasingly, we’re seeing businesses not talk about inflation or gas prices, but focus on finding workers with the right skills; workers just with good working habits,” according to Thompson.

While the overall state economy appears strong, there are regional concerns.

“What we saw in terms of the regional pattern was businesses were most optimistic in the Omaha area, but then in the Lincoln and central Nebraska area, they were about average and it was west Nebraska and the northeast were businesses were not optimistic,” Thompson says.

Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.

Former state fairgrounds emerging as Innovation Campus (AUDIO)

Nebraska Innovation Campus under construction on the old state fairgrounds in Lincoln

Nebraska Innovation Campus under construction on the old state fairgrounds in Lincoln

Nebraska Innovation Campus is taking shape on the former state fairgrounds.

Two buildings are occupied. Others are under construction.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman has high hopes for Innovation Campus.

“I think it does place us clearly in a lead toward the commercialization of innovation and I think it’s becoming an attraction for both students and faculty,” Perlman tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Construction crews have been erecting new buildings on the campus next to the Devaney Center, but the campus also retains some of the flavor of old State Fair buildings.

Perlman suggests the campus is coming full circle, with the innovation it proposes advancing agriculture around the globe.

Perlman calls it a 25-year project that shows steady progress, which will depend in large part on how successful the campus is on attracting private partners.

“The university is moving its food science department out here, but that’s pretty much the extent to which we will occupy the campus,” Perlman says. “Our objective is to have at least 75% of the buildings occupied by private-sector companies.”

Innovation Campus hopes to become a hub for global initiatives on food, water, and fuel.

Eventually, the campus will sprawl over 2.2 millions square feet, with 500,000 square feet completed within five years.

Buildings will be designed to foster interaction and stimulate ideas for the up to 5,000 people who could one day work and study on Innovation Campus.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Nebr. Dept of Labor / Offutt Career Fair Thursday

Those in eastern Nebraska looking for work need to mark Thursday, October 30th on their calendar.

Deb Christensen with the Nebraska Department of Labor says they are teaming with the Family & Readiness Center at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue for a career fair with 140 employers taking part.

Christensen says every business has to have at least one opening to participate. She says there are dozens of fields ranging from IT, health care, insurance and finance to manufacturing and production.

Christensen says that while this job fair is geared toward current and former military members, it is open to civilians as well.

The career fair is at the Lied Activities Center at 2700 Arboretum Drive in Bellevue from 10 am until 2 pm.

A lighter hand leads to more participation in wellness programs (AUDIO)

Methods have changed and it seems more employees and school children are participating in wellness programs.

More and more businesses offer wellness programs, help with exercise and diet, to improve employee health and reduce insurance costs.

Tara Smydra runs the program for Norfolk Iron and Metal Company and says a change in tactic increased employee participation.

“We really don’t have a lot of resistance, which is great,” according to Smydra. “When we pushed, we did have some resistance, but now that we’re opening it up and allowing them, we don’t have it.”

Smydra admits that the company’s enthusiasm for the program went a bit too far at first. Success spurred Norfolk Iron to push too hard. When the company ease up, participation went up.

The company began explaining the benefits, both physically and fiscally, to employees. Employees who saw great results sold the program to fellow workers. The company gathered focus groups and asked what programs would better motivate employees.

Even school children need encouragement to exercise, a fact that catches Betty Seim at Grand Island Central Catholic School a bit off-guard, admitting it seems odd to have to encourage kids to play.

“It does, having grown up in my generation,” Seims says. “We played outside for hours upon end and watched TV a little.”

Seims says the sedentary lifestyle of schoolchildren these days, with televisions, computers, video games, and cell phones at the ready, has led to a rise in obesity. She says the school has had success when it attempts to moderate, not eliminate, screen time while it increases activity.

Both Norfolk Iron and Central Catholic were 2014 recipients of the Governor’s Wellness Award.

Nebraska businesses can apply for the Governor’s Wellness Award online at nebraska.gov/wellness. The award program is a partnership of the Office of the Governor, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and WorkWell/Nebraska Safety Council. The Nebraska Worksite Wellness Toolkit can be found at worksitewellness.ne.gov.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]