Central Nebraska Initiative

The Central Nebraska Initiative works with local business leaders on an internship program in Grand Island, Kearney, and Hastings.

Matt Maser, a Grand Island attorney and Aksarben Councillor, is working with local business leaders on an internship program for employers in Grand Island and is looking for people in Kearney and Hastings to identify and initiate successful programs there. Although the three cities sometimes compete with one another, Aksarben wants to help them work together.

“The problem’s way too big to be territorial,” Maser says. “We need to figure a way to get people to central Nebraska, period. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Grand Island, Hastings or Kearney. We look forward to all communities working together to help solve our regional challenges.”

Grand Island’s immediate problem is housing for would-be interns since the community doesn’t have dormitories or similar places for them to live and have off-hours social interaction. Just as leaders of the Northeast Nebraska Growing Together are finding, there isn’t a problem arranging the work, Maser said. But without viable housing and social possibilities, young people don’t even want to interview for jobs in the community.

Plans are underway in Grand Island for internships in a wide range of occupations, such as welding, accounting, engineering, trades and health professions.

In addition, Maser is working closely with CHI Health and the Grand Island Public Schools toward expanding the Academy of Medical Sciences. This unique program will offer four years of hand-on experience at CHI Health St. Francis hospital in Grand Island for students at Grand Island High School. Aksarben is helping facilitate this program through fundraising and the leadership of the Central Nebraska Committee, led by Maser.

This innovative program, which will serve over 500 high school students, will produce multiple results, including students who will graduate with the Certified Nursing Assis- tant designation, enabling them to work immediately in senior care centers and hospitals. It also prepares students to pursue two-year or four-year degrees in the medical field, including nursing, medical school, nurse anesthetists and other medical fields where there is a clear shortage of workers.

“We have overwhelming support in the business community for an internship program in the summer and the school year,” he said. “They want to get this going right away and build from there.”

“We need to figure a way to get people to Central Nebraska, period.” Matt Maser, Grand Island attorney and Aksarben Councillor.