LINCOLN, NEBRASKA (Apr. 28, 2022) — Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers today joined an all-star lineup of Nebraska business and technology leaders for a virtual discussion with Connected Commerce Council (3C) Chairman Jake Ward about innovation in the state.
This online forum focused on how Nebraska is fostering an environment for innovation to thrive and featured stories of how Nebraska small businesses have achieved success through the use of low-cost digital tools and services, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Senator Mike Hilgers, the Speaker of the Legislature, said, “As is certainly the case with my own small business, technology and digital tools have become an increasingly important component of business growth. This is true across Nebraska, and that’s why I’m so proud of the Legislature’s efforts to invest in rural broadband and other key economic initiatives from workforce housing to quality of life to apprenticeships. Tech for small business is without question a critical building block and determinate of success. Without technology, most small businesses are hard-pressed to compete or survive.”
Following Speaker Hilgers’ keynote address, 3C Chairman Jake Ward was joined by Karen Gibler, President of the Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce; Jason Ball, President of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce; and, Derek Rusher, President/CEO of the Kearney Chamber of Commerce, for a panel discussion about how technology has helped Nebraska small business adapt and become more efficient, especially during and after the pandemic, and the various resources and programs available to small businesses.
The Covid-19 pandemic compelled businesses to look at new ways to retain current customers and grow business. 3C research shows 91 percent of small businesses in Nebraska leaned heavily on digital tools during the pandemic, a higher rate than the national average of 72 percent. The top tools used by Nebraska businesses are customer relationship management, online collaboration, and online hiring platforms. Businesses want to further expand into business websites, online training platforms, and online hiring platforms. A recent 3C report demonstrated that during the pandemic, digitally advanced small businesses retained customers 3.2 times better and acquired 20 times more customers than less digitally advanced small businesses.
Jason Ball, President of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce said, “Business innovation using technology and available digital tools is a major contributor to the success of business in Lincoln. During the pandemic, businesses of all sizes upped their game with the use of more tech tools to keep their doors open. Many businesses adapted to the pandemic and post-pandemic paradigm with greater reliance on technology to find and deliver for customers, increase workforce flexibility and improve back-office functions. Lincoln’s business community is stronger today and better prepared for the next unforeseen challenge thanks to our people and digital tools.”
Derek Rusher, President/CEO of the Kearney Chamber of Commerce said, “What is the top need for business right now? Workforce. One way to help solve the workforce crisis is to employ technology to cover duties that people once did. Bottom line is digital tools save time and labor. If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that technology integration needs to be a top priority for any business. Every business can be a technology business vertically integrated to whatever they provide or produce. I see five major advantages of why businesses should continue or need to invest in technology including increased productivity, enhanced marketing, increased collaboration, improved customer service, and advanced remote working.”
Jim Vokal, CEO of the Platte Institute, hosted a second panel featuring Janell Anderson Ehrke, CEO of GROW Nebraska; Nick Moor, owner of Moor Prosperous Financial; and, Christine Weeks, CEO/Founder of Eleanor Creative for a panel discussion on digital commerce in Nebraska and how technology has made Nebraska’s businesses more efficient and competitive, especially post-pandemic.
Nick Moor, owner of Moor Prosperous Financial, said, “Social media is one of the absolute best and also most underutilized digital tools at our fingertips. We have the ability to connect, build relationships and share the things we care about with our friends/followers. But instead, a lot of us just mindlessly scroll for hours on end. I use my social media to be intentional with people and find ways to help them which has made a world of difference for me and my business.”
To view a recording of the webinar, visit https://youtu.be/tsatAQkf3k0