OMAHA – The Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) has announced today that it has hired a new director – just the second in the center’s nearly 40-year history.
Catherine Lang, who most recently served as the vice president of Accelerate Nebraska, will take over as NBDC statewide director on Dec. 1 of this year after serving two months as director designate.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the businesses of the state of Nebraska as the Executive Director of the Nebraska Business Development Center," Lang Said. "The University of Nebraska at Omaha has supported the programs offered by NBDC which benefit business development across our state. I look forward to building on the relationships I have across Nebraska and supporting the programs offered at NBDC."
Lang will be replacing Robert Bernier, who is retiring after serving as NBDC director since 1979. He is the longest-serving director of a business development center in the U.S.
“I am proud of the work of NBDC consultants over these many years and pleased that the center will now be under the leadership of Cathy Lang,” Bernier said.
Bernier will continue to provide consultation and support for NBDC in various capacities after stepping down as director.
"NBDC has made a tremendous impact on Nebraska under Bob's leadership and I am confident in Cathy Lang's ability to continue that success in the future," UNO Chancellor John Christensen said. "I look forward to all the new and exciting collaborations UNO and the University of Nebraska will have across the state."
Since its founding in 1977, NBDC has operated with a statewide mission out of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) College of Business Administration (CBA). Currently, the center has service centers in seven cities outside of Omaha: Chadron, Grand Island, Kearney, Lincoln, North Platte, Scottsbluff, and Wayne.
Since 2002, NBDC has served more than 62,000 clients, helping them contribute more than $5 billion to the Nebraska economy, through professional development, training, operational improvements, funding opportunities and applied research.
“Catherine Lang’s extensive economic development experience will bring new strengths to an already accomplished Nebraska Business Development Center,” said Louis Pol, dean of the UNO College of Business Administration. “We are proud of the successes of NBDC and thank Robert Bernier for his innovation and unwavering focus on developing programs that bring value and results to a full range of small business clients. Under Catherine’s leadership, the center is poised to build on this momentum and extend its engagement and reach throughout Nebraska.”
In her role, Lang will not only lead statewide outreach for NBDC, but will also work to build new collaborative efforts across all four of the University of Nebraska campuses to support the center's mission.
"I am thrilled that Cathy Lang has agreed to lead the Nebraska Business Development Center; her expertise in economic development and deep connections throughout the state will be a great asset as we expand the scope and breadth of the center’s activities even further," University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds said. "Bob Bernier has built NBDC into a statewide resource that serves a diverse range of Nebraska businesses and entrepreneurs. We are now in a strong position to bring our work to the next level, deepening the center’s engagement across the university and doing even more to grow a vibrant innovation economy in Nebraska. I am excited to see what we achieve under Cathy’s leadership.”
In her role at Accelerate Nebraska, Lang connected educational institutions with business and community efforts to support workplace development and share best practices leveraging private, philanthropic and public resources to improve the state’s education and economic systems.
Lang earned her J.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Law and has served in a number of governmental roles, including Director of the Property Tax Division of the Nebraska Department of Revenue, Commissioner of Labor for the Nebraska Department of Labor, and Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.
Lang is also a board member for Nebraska’s AIM Institute, the vice chair for Humanities Nebraska, and a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association, just to name some of her community leadership positions.
"I look forward to exploring the opportunities the University may have in developing stronger relationships with Nebraska's private business sector," she said. "A strong partnership between the business sector and the University will strengthen our economic future."
Bernier, who also served as assistant dean for UNO CBA, has formerly served as president of the Association of Small Business Development Centers, as well as earning national recognitions including the Leavey Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge and the Equal Opportunity for Women in Business Innovation Award from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – International.
Bernier earned an MBA in finance and a Ph.D. from UNO.
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