Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chuck Hassebrook is visiting Beatrice and other communities in Southeast Nebraska as he campaigns for the Nov. 4 general election.
Hassebrook is the lone candidate for governor from the Democratic party and will face off against Pete Ricketts, who won the nomination in last week’s Republican primary election.
While focus has been on the primary election, Hassebrook said he’s been building a solid campaign and has high hopes for the fall election season.
“We built the strongest Democratic campaign for governor since Ben Nelson won two decades ago,” Hassebrook said. “We have volunteers in every one of Nebraska’s 93 counties already, over 2,000 total.”
“One of the things about not having a primary that’s been important for us is that I’ve been able to focus on the issues that I believe are the most important for the future of Nebraska. We haven’t had to appeal to either extreme.”
Hassebrook said rural development in Nebraska is a top priority of his. One day after the primary election, he released a statement concerning his plan to boost economic development in the state.
“It starts with small business development,” Hassebrook said of his plan. “We have a whole new generation of small-business opportunities today where people can start a small business in Beatrice and sell goods or services worldwide from here... I want to make Nebraska one of the best states in America to start as mall business by beefing up financing for small businesses, tax credits for small business and removing some of the regulatory biases.”
In addition to utilizing incentives to entice small businesses, Hassebrook said education reform to properly utilize the workforce is another key aspect of enhancing business development across Nebraska.
“We have a lot of good jobs in rural Nebraska. Manufacturing and other fields that are going unfilled because people don’t have the right skills,’ Hassebrook said. “These are jobs where with a year or two of training at a community college or technical school you can go from making $8-$9 an hour to $40-50,000 a year as a welder or diesel mechanic, or writing code for programming.”
Hassebrook spent 36 years with the Center for Rural Affairs, including 18 as the executive director. During his time at the Center, they have provided loans, training, and business-planning assistance to over 10,000 small businesses in rural Nebraska.
He also served 18 years as a Regent for the University of Nebraska, including two terms as Chair. Hassebrook currently serves on the Board of the USDA North Central Region Rural Development Center, and has previously served on the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, USDA Commission on Small Farms, and the Board of Bread for the World, a Christian ecumenical anti-hunger organization based in Washington.
Hassebrook said promoting the renewable energy industries in Nebraska is a priority, particularly ethanol and wind.
“In ethanol, we’re the nation’s second-leading ethanol producer, but we’re behind most of our neighbors in support of Nebraska use of Nebraska ethanol. We haven’t even put our state vehicle fleet on E-15. As governor, I’ll put the state vehicle fleet on E-15, but beyond that, work with our corn board, our ethanol industry to really beef up the number of blended pumps in Nebraska.
“We have more consistent wind here in Nebraska than anywhere else in the country. They may have higher average wind speed in Kansas, which is also a wind state, but we’re actually better in Nebraska because we have more consistent wind, but we’re way behind all our neighbors and it reflects a profound lack of leadership in the governor’s office.”