Bryan Slone Takes Over Nebraska Chamber 6/19/18 06/19/18 12:05:48 PM
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Bryan Slone is a Nebraskan through and through, from his upbringing to his education to his unbridled support of his state.
Will Speak in Ralston Today
Bryan Slone Takes Over Nebraska Chamber
By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record
Bringing a high-powered resume, a passion for business and small-town common sense, Bryan Slone has assumed leadership of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry – the voice of Nebraska’s business community.
Armed with a degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law, Slone has been on the job a little more than a month and comes to the metro area to speak today at the Ralston Arena for the Ralston Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon.
Slone replaces Barry Kennedy who spent 32 years with the Nebraska Chamber, the last 19 as president.
“The State Chamber is an important voice for Nebraska businesses large and small and plays a key role in legislative policy and economic development matters that will have a significant effect on the growth of the State and economic opportunities for years to come,” Slone stated.
“In the past several years, I had worked with the State Chamber, as well as local chambers, on tax issues and was impressed with the positive impact they can have in Lincoln and Washington D.C.
“It was an easy decision to become part of the State Chamber organization.”
Slone most recently worked as a tax attorney at Koley Jessen in Omaha, was a Republican candidate for governor in 2014, and previously was a managing partner for Deloitte’s Omaha office. He spent most of the 1980s in Washington, D.C., as a legal advisor to the IRS Commissioner and was a House Ways and Means Committee staff member under current NU Regent and former U.S. Rep. Hal Daub.
In that job, Slone helped shape the 1986 federal tax law overhaul. A native Nebraskan, he was born in the Panhandle and has lived in several communities. Slone and his wife Leslie have two adult children who live and work in Omaha and Atlanta.
At A Crossroads
Slone feels Nebraska is, in many ways, at a crossroads. The state, he said, is positioned better than most to be highly competitive for the next decade or two.
“In an age where quality of life is becoming an important determining factor for younger generations, Nebraska is second to none in the potential to provide a high quality lifestyle at an affordable price,” Slone emphasized. “From a business standpoint, our state has unique resources to support a wide variety of industries, not the least being the work ethic of our workforce and our water resources.”
Nebraska’s relatively small size, relatively small amount of debt, and one-house legislature should make it easier to address the policy changes all states face in attracting jobs and workers at a time when many global businesses, he pointed out, literally can be located anywhere.
The biggest obstacle, he suggested, is growing the state’s population at a higher rate to create the workforce that is needed to attract more businesses and industries.
“Historically, our rate of population growth has been relatively low and our government expenditures have tended to grow at rates that have outpaced our population growth,” Slone stated. He feels the state needs to balance those trends by keeping more of its young residents in careers within the state while more purposefully attracting workforce and businesses from other states.
He added, state government needs to control its spending within the growth of our economy.
There are no silver bullets, Slone said, but there many opportunities for Nebraska to put in place the types of policies and programs he feels would be even more successful.
Taxes are one area the former tax attorney would like to see addressed.
“Our tax system is outdated and we should be addressing through fundamental tax reform how we can reduce our tax rates as we are perceived currently as a high tax state in many regards,” Slone offered.
He also would like to see regulatory impediments reduced for people who want to start businesses, and there is a need to modernize Nebraska’s educational systems to further modernize and leverage technology. That way, the state could more efficiently retain and develop a highly competitive workforce in large and small communities across Nebraska.
“We will need to make further strategic investments as a state in infrastructure to create the type of environment that will attract employers and workers in greater numbers,” he added.
“And finally, we should seek to become the number one destination for those leaving military service.”
Based on his experience in private business, Slone said the best opportunities are almost always found in building on what you do best.
“We should recognize the types of centers of excellence we have in this state such as agriculture, financial services, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, engineering and architecture, and health care, to name a few,” Slone emphasized. “Building from those industries that we already excel in, we should be seeking to attract in terms of related businesses and technology firms such as agriculture and healthcare biosciences.”
He added it logistically makes sense to establish research close to premier global operations and companies.
In his Ralston address, Slone said he plans to talk specifically about the challenges and opportunities facing this state in the coming decade in which there will be economic winners and losers among the states based on choices that are made now.
“I am very optimistic about the ability of Nebraska to navigate the current economic challenges better than most all other states if we are willing to address some hard issues and engage both the public and private sectors in the solutions,” he stressed.
He said the past two decades of living in Omaha have shown him “first-hand” the power of public-private partnerships in shaping a community’s future. That means he will be talking more about Blueprint Nebraska – a comprehensive plan to invigorate the state’s economy and workforce. Blueprint Nebraska is modeled after a similar effort in Mississippi and was unveiled last month.
Slone believes in the potential of Blueprint Nebraska and the future of Nebraska’s smaller communities which he feels will see a resurgence as an attractive place for younger people to live based on quality of life issues.
“I know from my personal experience what the advantages of growing up in a smaller community are and how those experiences related to my career,” Slone recalled. “I have a particular interest in what smaller communities can be doing to better connect younger people to career opportunities at their doorstep.”