LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts is convening his first economic summit to elicit ideas on how best to attract jobs and more population to Nebraska.

The Governor’s Summit on Economic Development is scheduled for July 12 in Lincoln. Nebraska business and community leaders will be asked to share suggestions and help plan strategy on workforce development, innovation, housing and other matters.

A consultant, SRI International, has already begun interviewing key leaders about the state’s strengths and weaknesses and its existing economic development programs.

SRI, which is being paid $145,000, is updating a similar state study, the Battelle report. In 2010, that report made several recommendations, including better linking talented college graduates with high-tech jobs in the state and creating a destination state park in the Sand Hills.

The summit will allow Nebraskans to suggest ways to keep young people in the state and to grow and retain existing businesses, Ricketts said.

“We’re bringing the best minds from all across the state together,” he said.

One big issue, Ricketts said, is that Nebraska’s low, 2.9 percent unemployment rate creates challenges in finding enough skilled workers to fill job openings.

The state’s new director of economic development, Courtney Dentlinger, said although there is a constant re-evaluation of programs and policies, the summit will provide ideas on “how we can make Nebraska stand out” and be more prosperous.

Ricketts said invitations would be sent to summit participants, and input from the public is welcomed.

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