Path to a stronger workforce – Lincoln Journal Star

In February, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce introduced Vitality Lincoln — a strategic plan outlining a vision for Lincoln’s economic future. This detailed plan for Lincoln addresses six key initiatives, including a critical focus on fostering a diverse talent pool as a sustainable foundation for our local workforce.

Today, I am excited to share information about a program that local businesses can use to recruit new talent to their teams. Beginning this month, businesses will have the opportunity to receive grant funding for internships through InternNE Powered by Aksarben. This competitive grant initiative is provided through a $20 million collaboration between the Aksarben Foundation and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

Businesses can use InternNE funding to reimburse eligible internship expenses including intern training and wages. Both for-profit and nonprofit businesses with physical operations in Nebraska are eligible to apply. InternNE is about more than just funding; it’s about building bridges between eager students and forward-thinking employers to drive our state’s prosperity for years to come. Internships are an important pathway of addressing the workforce challenges in our state, and as a business community, it is imperative that we enhance the internship experience for students to ensure it’s both educational and engaging.

This experience holds immense significance with students as they outline their future as a potential member of Nebraska’s future workforce. For many Lincoln businesses, internship programs constitute an ongoing effort to cultivate talent pipelines. For others, an InternNE grant will provide the funding needed to hire their very first intern. InternNE Powered by Aksarben presents invaluable resources to assist businesses in crafting effective programs that not only benefit students but also pave the way for employer growth and intern success. Successful internships increase the likelihood of a seamless transition into a full-time career in Nebraska communities.

The first round of InternNE grant application is open through Nov. 30 with three additional application cycles throughout 2024. This year-round approach is a demonstration of commitment to Nebraska businesses, ensuring that every organization has the chance to leverage InternNE to expand its workforce.

On behalf of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, I urge all members of Nebraska’s business community to learn more about the InternNE Powered by Aksarben program by visiting internneb.org and apply at your earliest opportunity. Together, we can utilize this program to tackle our state’s top business challenge head-on and build a stronger workforce for the future, one internship at a time.

Jason Ball is president and CEO of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development.