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Mentorship program launched to cultivate entrepreneurs in Nebraska

Gov. Dave Heineman discusses Nebraska’s new small business mentoring initiative on Thursday at Gallup headquarters. Photo by Michael Stacy.

Before he looked toward the future during a Thursday meeting at The Gallup Organization‘s headquarters, Gallup vice-chairman and chief financial officer Jim Krieger discussed past efforts in support of entrepreneurship in Nebraska.

“Now,” Krieger said, “we’re going to step it up a notch.”

Gov. Dave Heineman then introduced a new partnership aimed at strengthening Nebraska small businesses and startup enterprises through mentorship.

Gallup, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources are co-sponsoring the initiative.

Last week, 27 volunteer small business and economic development leaders participated in a Gallup-sponsored workshop to become certified mentors. Starting in April and continuing throughout the next two years, those mentors will work with small and startup businesses in high-growth sectors such as renewable energy, information technology, manufacturing and logistics.

The mentorship program has the potential to help 400 businesses in that time, the governor’s office said in a press release.

The organizations sponsoring the project worked to identify a pool of entrepreneurs ideal for the program. They also chose the mentors, who represent a diverse array of geographic and professional backgrounds within the state.

Gov. Dave Heineman (left) and Gallup’s Jim Krieger help introduce Nebraska’s new entrepreneurship initiative, which the governor’s office estimates has the potential to help 400 businesses. Photo by Michael Stacy. 

Heineman praised the mentors, who were front and center at the meeting. The governor called them “fantastic, awesome, phenomenal, amazing.”

“You are going to create companies that are going to go from a small startup to one of the leading business in our state,” Heineman said, “and 20 years from now we’ll look back and remember it got started right here at Gallup today and you played a major role.”

Nebraska is the first state to use Gallup’s Entrepreneur Acceleration System, which Gallup has run in Mexico, in various iterations, for about five years. The program is one that measures and then develops the entrepreneurial abilities of the individual at the head of a company to provide the company as a whole the best opportunity for sustained growth.

If all goes well, the program itself could grow beyond Nebraska’s borders, spreading to other states on the Silicon Prairie – and beyond.

“There are other states watching as well,” Gallup’s Todd Johnson said. “So I think the plan is that we get it up and running and we can showcase this Nebraska initiative and then have (other states) come see, look, understand, and we have every intention of doing this in every state of the union.”

A few spots still remain in the program. Entrepreneurs interested in participating can contact Johnson at todd_johnson@gallup.com.

For more coverage of the announcement, see Nebraska Entrepreneur: “Governor Announces New Entrepreneur Mentoring Initiative.”

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