Omaha and Lincoln are taking the right step by jointly marketing themselves as a regional tech hub. The quality of life in the two cities is high, and the tech employment opportunities are considerable. It’s smart to capitalize on those qualities in reaching out to prospective tech workers.
“Opt In” is the slogan for the $150,000 marketing campaign, being pitched in four cities: Chicago, Detroit, Denver and Sioux Falls, S.D. The chambers intend to add Kansas City. The campaign fits into the Greater Omaha Chamber’s five-year strategic plan, which aims to add 10,000 tech workers to the local workforce through recruitment, retraining and producing more graduates from Nebraska institutions of higher learning.
Omaha and Lincoln can point to local successes to illustrate our area’s tech success and potential. Fast-growing Omaha-based Flywheel, a web-content management firm, is a leader in its field and was just bought by a Texas-based tech firm. Buildertrend, a successful Omaha construction management software startup, was at the press conference announcing the “Opt In” campaign.
Lincoln has become an impressive sports-technology hub, highlighted by the phenomenal ascent of the sports video-analysis firm Hudl. The dedication of the company’s seven-story, $25 million headquarters in downtown Lincoln two years ago showcased the city’s impressive tech momentum. Hudl has been a leader in venture capital investment in Nebraska, and its three co-founders are graduates of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, which offers top-flight tech and business management training.
Biotechnology is becoming another notable tech niche here. Virtual Incision Corp., a medical device company founded by a UNL engineer and a surgeon at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, raised $18 million in equity funding. UNMC and the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s biomechanics faculty developed an innovative business spinoff on concussion-detection technology.
High-tech agriculture provides another example of Nebraska tech innovation and ambition. These companies illustrate the trend:
» iNet Solutions Group is an Omaha-based developer of agriculture-related desktop and website applications and mobile app development. Its clients include some of the country’s largest agricultural cooperatives and trading firms.
» GrainBridge Corp., also in Omaha, provides agricultural risk management software used widely throughout the ag sector.
» Quantified Ag, in Lincoln, has created a biometric ear tag that helps feedlot operators keep closer watch over animals.
Omaha and Lincoln also have success in recruiting tech businesses. Toast Inc., a Boston-based restaurant services software company, moved its headquarters to downtown Omaha. And Ink Labs, a Silicon Valley startup that markets a modern printing kiosk to colleges, made such a move to Lincoln in 2017.
Omaha and Lincoln can — and do — provide a welcoming home for ambitious, talented individuals looking for tech opportunities and a high quality of life. As experience here has shown at multiple companies, those who decide to “Opt In” to the Omaha and Lincoln tech scene can indeed see great results and success.