Low income taxes and a robust economy are just two reasons Nebraska is an ideal environment for aspiring business owners. Equally important, supportive local communities — which the state is also known for — have helped both large and small businesses grow and succeed over the years.
Nebraska-Founded and Raised
Nebraska is home to many unique businesses and companies that help to enrich the culture of local communities throughout the state.
Wax Buffalo, located in the heart of the Historic Haymarket in Lincoln, is one example. Founder Alicia Reisinger said her company’s mission is to create “beautifully imperfect” products for the modern home with each of its candles, diffusers and roll-ons which are handmade by its small team.
“We do not outsource the production of our products — it is really important to us to create products within our four walls with intention and integrity,” Reisinger said. “We care about what you put in your home.”
Reisinger, who is passionate about igniting change in the arena of working women and specifically working mothers, focuses on helping women feel supported to challenge the status quo of when and how to work.
“Working in a way that suits us as individuals rather than robotically pumping out work within an allotted time frame,” Reisinger said. “And I was doing this long before the pandemic challenged working norms. Proving this model can and does work — in retail, in business, in life.”
A business that particularly impacts the local scene is Made in Omaha, which supports local creatives by selling their goods in its three Omaha brick and mortar stores and online.
“Our team develops meaningful relationships with hundreds of local makers to sell their wares,” said Nick Huff, co-owner of Hutch and Made in Omaha. “We also have a gift box program where you can select from pre-made boxes or make your own custom gift box for your business, family or friends — all including items made in and around Omaha.”
At Hutch, which has grown from a vintage furniture boutique to a residential and commercial furniture company, customers can find over 100 curated brands.
E Creative, a local brand strategy and communications group based in Omaha, creates meaningful brands and communications that resonate and reflect the diversity within the community. At the heart of its work, Esther Mejia, president and CCO, said the group supports local nonprofits, small businesses and national organizations that are doing extraordinary work to enrich lives and elevate communities.
“We have the opportunity to build connections and relationships with unique people all over the state and nation,” Mejia said. “We see ourselves as an extension of our clients’ teams so they can focus on their mission and continue to meet needs within our communities.”
A business name that is familiar to many communities, both within the state and out of the state, is Scooter’s Coffee. Nick Jarecke, senior vice president of supply chain, said the company’s strong roots and vast store footprint in the state and the Midwest positions it for success nationwide as it approaches 500 stores across 24 states. Founded in Bellevue in 1998, Scooter’s Coffee operates its headquarters and two of its distribution centers in Omaha.
“Scooter’s Coffee and its vertically integrated supply chain division Harvest Roasting locally roasts all of the world-class specialty coffee beans that are packaged and distributed to franchisees across the company’s footprint, for a fresh farm-to-cup experience for our loyal and new customers,” Jarecke said.
With more than 120 firms that call themselves Carson Partners, and more than 1,000 firms in its coaching program, locally-based Carson Group has a unique lens into the industry to affect change. Ron Carson, founder and CEO, said the company is doing its part to train and develop next-gen talent to professionalize the industry.
“The very DNA of our organization is unique to financial services in that no other RIA has one of the longest-standing coaching programs for advisors, as well as a partnership offering to help advisors run, grow and love their business,” Carson said.
As a third-generation company with three locations, I-Go Van & Storage Co. is a union moving and storage company. CFO and Treasurer Brian Nogg said part of the company’s success is due to a commitment made by its owners to remain hands-on and work alongside its people.
“We also have many employees who have worked with us for 30 years or more,” Nogg said. “We think it’s extremely unique to have such a senior team, especially in these times.”
The Good Life
It’s no myth — “Nebraska Nice” is a real way of life according to local business owners, and the sense of community that comes with that sentiment is palpable. According to Reisinger, people in Nebraska genuinely want to see each other succeed and do what they can to support and lift each other up. At the same time, Nebraska’s workforce knows what it means to hustle and work hard.
Over the years, Nebraska has also continued to show up for local creatives and businesses.
“We have a great group of talented makers, designers, musicians, chefs and operators here, and Nebraska overall cares about quality, character and community,” Huff said. “We are very appreciative for the support and opportunity to grow our businesses in Nebraska.”
Nebraska is full of positive change-makers doing phenomenal work and making valuable contributions to communities within its cities and across the state. According to Mejia, there are many leaders in the community who advocate for and support entrepreneurial success.
“E Creative benefitted from these relationships in our early years, which we coupled with our expertise and ability to deliver results for our clients,” Mejia said. “With supporters in our corner early on, we have established long-standing business relationships, nurtured new connections and evolved within our industry.”
For Carson Group, Omaha is often referred to as the center of the universe. Not because the company feels it’s the most important place on Earth, but because of how its position in the Midwest equips it for growth.
“We can bring in talent from all over the country. Being centrally located, we tap into the Midwest work ethic that I have always felt was a staple of our success and we can scale the business while staying economically responsible because of how affordable and stable it is to live here,” Carson said.
Home to five Fortune 500 companies, Nebraska is a special place to do business.
I-Go Van & Storage Co. has been fortunate to work with many of these companies, which has helped grow the business, according to Nogg.
“One of the reasons why people relocate or build their business here in Omaha is because of the mentality,” Nogg said. “It’s that hardworking, Midwestern work ethic.”
Even though remote work has been a trend in recent years, Nogg said Omaha also stands out because the community understands the value of working collaboratively, in-person.
“Nebraska is a great place to be,” Nogg said. “There’s a consistency about it. Companies don’t take too many risks, but take enough risks to do really well.”
Fundamentals of Growth
If one thing is true, growth takes time. Successful businesses in Nebraska can attest to this.
“Whatever it is, just get started today,” Reisinger said. “Also, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get started. There is beauty and grace in the slow grow. Go slow and do it well. And surround yourself with good humans smarter and more talented than you.”
Nebraska has been dubbed a good place to take risks and start a business, Huff said, as it’s often more affordable and forgiving than other larger cities.
“We have been able to open multiple retail concepts and throw an annual maker festival full of local shopping, eating, drinking and music,” Huff said. “Nebraska is where I call home, and while we have a lot of work to do to make it a prosperous place to live for all, it has been a very rewarding place to put down roots and grow.”
It is true that how a business shows up matters — and it’s key to building authentic, meaningful relationships. For E Creative, Mejia said the business has thrived because it provides a unique approach in how it develops strategies that support clients’ organizational goals.
“Being adaptable and responsive to the changing needs of our clients has led us to expand our range of services,” Mejia said. “As a result, we have deepened existing client relationships and engaged new clients while growing our team.”
Nurturing relationships is important for any business model to grow, and Scooter’s Coffee is no different. Jarecke said the relationships Scooter’s Coffee has cultivated and nourished with its coffee and dairy farmers, suppliers, customers, franchisees and employees make up the very fabric of its brand and capture the essence of who the company is and what it stands for — integrity, love, humility and courage.
Nebraska is home to some of the most innovative companies in financial services, making the market extremely competitive but also full of opportunity. From creating a passionate, unified culture and giving stakeholders a state-of-the-art building to use, to the ability to execute on ideas and move quickly enough to anticipate the needs of clients, Carson said Carson Group realizes it must provide all of these things in order to attract top-tier talent.
For any company to continue to grow in Nebraska, a vibrant workforce is needed. According to Nogg, this means that local companies and the community must continue to attract talent to the area. Additionally, Nogg said a company’s growth is directly correlated with its emphasis on making good connections. I-Go Van & Storage Co. credits a supportive community for its growth.
“Word of mouth is very important in our industry and our customers have helped us grow by proactively spreading the word about our company,” Nogg said. “And that’s exactly what helps a company continue its success.”