A Gering business is among three businessses announced by Governor Pete Ricketts for a 2019 grant under the Developing Youth Talent Initiative.
Vistabeam Inventive Wireless received a $103,000 grant to re-outfit Gering Junior High School’s IT lab with new software and equipment. The upgrades will provide a state-of-the art IT and STEM learning environment for at least 450 students in the first year.
Company spokesperson Rebecca Shields says Junior High is not too early to engage today’s tech-savvy students on possible career choices. “With all the technology, they’re growing up and when they’re one year old they already have a phone or iPad in their hand learning this,” says Shields, “And so, if we can get into the Junior High or High School, and work with these kids, they don’t need an engineering degree. They’re already smart enough, they can come and we can show them what we do in our business.”
Governor Ricketts says the $250,000 in grants help businesses in the state engage their local students and encourage them to build a career in their home area. “These are great career opportunities for our young people we want to know about, and we want to catch them in 7th and 8th grade because that’s the time they start thinking about careers,” says Ricketts, “And then hopefully, follow that through a Career Academy and going into High School and that post-secondary education.”
Ricketts says the initiative has already reached 7,000 students in 23 school districts since the program started in 2015, and the addition of the three companies named Monday will extend that reach to 11,000 students.
The other businesses receiving grants:
- Orthman Manufacturing of Lexington. Orthman, which accepted a $125,000 grant, plans to outfit mobile trailer “makerspaces” with manufacturing-related technologies and equipment. These makerspaces will travel throughout school districts in a 10-county area of central Nebraska to educate at least 3,300 students on industry-related concepts.
- Reinke Manufacturing of Deshler. Reinke was also a DYTI recipient in 2018, and accepted an award of $22,000 this year. Embarking on an entirely new project, the company intends to reach up to 850 students through its Exposing Kids to Career Opportunities (EKCO) program.