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Silicon Prairie News testifies on behalf of Nebraska Innovation Act

Last Thursday, Silicon Prairie News had the opportunity to testify in the Nebraska Legislature on behalf of LB 1109 – Adopt the Nebraska Innovation and High Wage Employment Act.

The proposed bill, introduced by State Senator Conrad, calls for the creation of a task force to investigate the entrepreneurial landscape and current activities in the state of Nebraska. One of the goals of the bill would be to identify the “best practices” which would help steer our state towards a more supportive environment for entrepreneurs.

The following footage features Senator Conrad talking about the background and spirit of the bill in addition to Dan Hoffman of Invest Nebraska Corporation and Caleb Pollard of Valley County Economic Development and the Ord Area Chamber of Commerce.

Below the video interviews, you can read Dusty Davidson‘s testimony and the bill in its entirety.

As LB 1109 and other initiatives continue to develop, stay tuned to Silicon Prairie News for updates and how you can help.

The following is Dusty’s full testimony from the hearing:

Thank you Senators. Good afternoon, my name is Dusty Davidson, and I along with my college and good friend Jeff Slobotski, founded an organization called Silicon Prairie News. The primary goal of Silicon Prairie News is simple: Highlighting and promoting this region’s truly talented entrepreneurs and innovators.

Our story started nearly two years ago, as my friend Jeff was traveling around the country for business. As he traveled about, he would see and meet individuals who were doing amazing things, and deep down he knew there *had* to be similar stories coming from Nebraska.

My own path started shortly out of college, a point at which I like to say I was “hell bent” on going to Silicon Valley to be where the “cool companies are” – the Googles, Facebooks and Pixars of the world. It wasn’t until I started my software company in Omaha that I realized the possibilities that exist right here.

And so, Jeff and I started Silicon Prairie News as a website to help others come to these conclusions as well.

Our approach is non-traditional. Its a grass-roots, bottom up effort aimed at inspiring and empowering new and would-be entrepreneurs. Each and every day we share the stories of some of the amazing talent and successes that exist, in an effort to showcase to others that you CAN start a business here… You don’t have to leave for Silicon Valley… Believe it or not, there’s “COOL” right here in Nebraska.

In addition to the website, we build excitement and awareness of entrepreneurship through events. We realize it’s important to connect people not only online but offline, as well. At our first event, we brought in an author from Silicon Valley to speak, and over 120 investors, developers, designers, entrepreneurs, and ordinary people gathered to hear her story. The energy and excitement in the room was staggering. Last May, we held the first-ever “Big Omaha Conference” at the KANEKO art gallery in downtown Omaha. We brought in some of the top young entrepreneurs from around the country for this two day event to share their stories and inspire over 400 of this region’s best and brightest.

Through our partnership with Invest Nebraska, we also help to organize quarterly “Pitch Competitions,” whereby individuals of all walks of life submit their best “ideas” for a chance to win a $1,000 cash prize. These events serve as a great opportunity to bring people out of the woodwork and excite them about the possibility of starting their own company, or pursuing their passions and ideas.

Long term, we’re committed to building and fostering a vibrant ecosystem centered around entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity and enterprise. We believe strongly that we must work together with organizations such as Invest Nebraska, the university system(s), the chambers of commerce, the angel investors and others in an open and collaborative fashion in order to truly put Nebraska and the “Silicon Prairie” on the national stage.

Building an ecosystem such as this is a huge undertaking, and involves buy-in at all levels: bottom up, and top down. We speak a lot about the components that make up such an ecosystem:

  • Access to capital
  • Strong universities
  • Culture of risk taking

The list goes on and on. We’re doing our best to influence change in the areas where we’re able, and we’re *very* excited to be a part of efforts such as LB 1109, to continue to help fill the gaps that remain.

We at Silicon Prairie News are passionate about building our state and region into an entrepreneurial hot spot, and are appreciative of the opportunity to testify on behalf of LB 1109 today.

The full text of the bill is below:

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