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Ricketts discusses ag and manufacturing during campaign stop in Sidney


Pete Ricketts joined the race for governor just six weeks ago.

He had initially supported Mike Flood. But when the speaker of the Nebraska legislature backed out after learning that his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, Ricketts began to reconsider his options.

“The reason I’m running for governor, frankly, is because I love Nebraska. We live the American dream here,” Ricketts said. “I want to help continue that. Through the great leadership we’ve had, they’ve laid a tremendous foundation for Nebraska and I want to be a part of building that for the future.”

He was born in Nebraska City before his parents made the decision to move to Omaha. In 1975, his father created what is now known as TD Ameritrade. The discount brokerage firm was one of the first companies of its ilk that allowed investors to be self-directed.

Ricketts joined the company in 1993 working on the phones giving out quotes and confirmations. He moved up through the ranks to eventually attain the title of Chief Operating Officer (COO).

When Ricketts began at the firm, there were 150 people on the payroll. Today, there are over 2,000 employed in Nebraska and around 6,000 nationwide. Needless to say, he took part in a period of tremendous growth while at the company.

In 2005, Ricketts left his job as COO to run for the U.S. Senate, though he was unsuccessful. In 2007, he became the national committeeman for the Republican Party in Nebraska, a position that he held through 2012.

Ricketts began his own business that invests in startup companies, and he is also a board member of Christian Urban Education Services (CUES), which helps keep inner city Catholic schools in Omaha financially sustainable so that their doors stay open.

Ricketts believes that there are three broad things that most Nebraskans are concerned about—education, jobs and the rural economy.

Ricketts knows that everyone wants their children and grandchildren to get a quality education and be able to grow up and find the career of their dreams here. He explained that Nebraskans have many great schools, but some children are being left behind, so the focus needs to be placed on improving outcomes.

The jobs issue is tied together with education. Ricketts believes that Nebraska should draw more companies to the state in order to have companies in place to employ the young people entering the work force.

When it comes to education and jobs, Ricketts believes that the line on spending needs to be held and Nebraska needs to be more competitive from a tax standpoint in order to draw companies in.

Ricketts insists that children across the state need to be more exposed to the trades, so that they can determine a career path earlier in life. When he was in school, every student was required to take shop, which included woodworking, metalworking, welding, etc. He believes that the education system has strayed from that and needs to get back on track. There are a number of jobs in the skilled trades and companies are struggling to find qualified workers. Ricketts asserts that this exposure will open the eyes of kids to opportunities that exist upon graduation.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our state’s economy and it is one of the reasons why there’s been no better place than Nebraska to weather this recession,” Ricketts said.

He points out that residents of the state need to continue to make sure agriculture is strong because it is the drive of Nebraska’s economy. He explained that since Nebraska is the fourth largest agriculture exporting state, efforts to open export markets need to be expanded, because 95 percent of the world’s consumers lie outside of the state’s borders.

Ricketts is currently traveling around the state, shaking as many hands as possible and listening to what Nebraskans have on their minds as part of his ag and manufacturing tour.

“We have a great history here in Nebraska of working together to solve our common problems and we value community and family and I want to be part of that community,” Ricketts said.


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