Jim Smith

LINCOLN — A Papillion senator has resigned from the Legislature early to lead a new organization dedicated to setting a unified course for the state’s economic future.

Blueprint Nebraska said Monday that Jim Smith will be the organization’s first executive director.

Smith, who is term-limited, was first elected to the Legislature in 2010. During his time in Lincoln, Smith served as the chairman of the Revenue Committee and the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

Outside the Legislature, Smith’s experience includes small and large businesses, and he’s served on nonprofit boards, according to a press release from Blueprint Nebraska.

Smith said he resigned from the Legislature early because he did not want any appearance of political bias in his new role. He said Blueprint Nebraska is about improving the well-being of the state’s economy for the next generation.

Smith’s legislative staff will remain in place through the end of the year to address constituent inquiries and needs.

Typically when a senator resigns, the governor appoints a new person to take that senator’s spot, but two people are already vying to replace Smith.

Jeff Parris and John Arch, both of La Vista, are running to replace Smith in the Legislature. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Taylor Gage, a spokesman for Gov. Pete Ricketts, said the governor believes the people of the district should decide on the next senator.

Blueprint Nebraska is a statewide coalition that is working on a plan for economic growth, competitiveness and prosperity in Nebraska.

The program is similar to Blueprint Mississippi, of which University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds was part before he came to Nebraska. Bounds has said the program in Mississippi generated thousands of high-paying, long-lasting jobs.

Union Pacific Chairman, President and CEO Lance Fritz, based in Omaha, and 21st Century Holdings President and CEO Owen Palm, based in Scottsbluff, praised Smith’s appointment. Fritz and Palm are co-chairs of Blueprint Nebraska.

“Jim’s credentials as an established business community leader across the state make him a natural choice to lead what truly will be a statewide effort,” Palm said in the press release.

Emily is part of The World-Herald's team covering the Legislature in Lincoln. Follow her on Twitter @emily_nitcher. Phone: 402-473-9581.

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