Governor Heineman has appointed state Labor Commissioner Catherine Lang of Lincoln as state Economic Development Director, while retaining her in her current position.
Heineman explained to reporters during a Capitol news conference that he will propose the legislature merge the Department of Labor and the Department of Economic Development during the upcoming legislative session. Heineman said it is the right time to combine the two state agencies and that Lang is the right person to oversee the move.
“The missions of the two agencies are complementary and consolidating the two will allow for a more coordinated approach in working to ensure economic prosperity for both workers and employers in Nebraska,” according to Heineman.
Heineman said he is looking more for coordination than efficiency. He said there are no plans at present to reduce the workforce, except to eliminate a director. The state Labor Department has 400 workers. Economic Development has 100 workers.
Lang told reporters she welcomes the challenge of combining of the two agencies.
“This merger makes perfect sense,” Lang said. “Nebraska business cannot succeed without its skilled and talented workforce. And our workforce cannot grow and prosper without a strong business community to support job creation.”
Lang replaces Richard Baier who left as state Economic Development Director to join the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce.