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Meister aims to keep grads in state: Dem. candidate wants to create jobs
Erik Dodge
Antelope Staff
Photo by Erik Dodge
Democratic candidate for governor, Mike Meister, visited Kearney on Tuesday Oct. 19. Meister will face Republican candidate Dave Heineman in the general election on Nov. 2. One of his main issues of concern is keeping college graduates from the Nebraska University system in state.

Democratic candidate for governor Mike Meister does not offer prepackaged solutions to university issues--instead he looks for them outside of the box.

“Our university system is probably one of the best things we have for the state,” Meister said.

Meister said the university provides very high quality education for a low price and has done an excellent job of trimming the budget. The former United States Army JAG officer complimented professors for their sacrifices and for helping students gain valuable skills to take into the marketplace.

But students are not staying in Nebraska after graduation, according to Meister.

“They get their education and then they’re off to other places. Those are the kind of issues we need to be addressing,” said Meister, a 1986 Creighton College of Law graduate.

The Scottsbluff resident would keep students in state by offering partnerships between businesses and students. He suggests a program of internships, where students are paired with local businesses so they learn skills and build relationships that will keep them here.

With college graduates facing national unemployment rates of 12 percent according to the Economic Policy Institute, the father of three encourages students to look for untraditional ways of entering the workforce.

“You just have to get out of your box and figure out other ways to do things,” he said.

Meister wants to support fresh ideas from young people like Facebook, the idea that made Mark Zuckerberg the youngest billionaire in the world.

“We need to take those ideas and instead of scoffing at them, say how can we help you develop that into something,” he said.

Meister would accomplish this through the Nebraska Business Development Center.

“What the current system does is you go in, they help you get set up, and then they kick you out the door. You’re on your own, and you make it or you don’t.  I would like to see us be a little more proactive in making sure those small businesses make it.”

Meister proposes that the NBDC could provide support after businesses are running and that Nebraska could provide more resources to the NBDC.

Nonprofit work is another avenue for graduates struggling to break into the job market.

“Work in those nonprofit areas so when the economy does recover you’re actually in a better position than the kid graduating from college, because now they have similar experience to what they would be doing in the corporate world,” he said.

Meister said a state budget could not be created until all state entities were evaluated but that the NU budget issues would likely be curbed with UNL’s move to the Big 10 Conference.

“I think you will see an influx of research dollars. If you look back at Penn State and what happened when they joined the Big 10, it was such a boom for them, and I think Nebraska will see that same boom, ” Meister said. “Then it’s a matter of the chancellor figuring out how to share the wealth.”

Editor's note: Republican candidate Dave Heineman could not schedule an interview by print time.


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