Members of the media are invited to a Nov. 23 luncheon featuring a speech by Fernandez, who is the U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development. Fernandez will speak about the Jobs and Innovation Partnership, a national initiative focused on enhancing regional innovation cluster development to drive jobs and economic growth. Appointed by President Obama in 2009, Fernandez is the administration’s key figure for issues related to innovation clusters, entrepreneurship and job creation.
“We are delighted to welcome Assistant Secretary Fernandez to Nebraska to share with him some of the ways the University of Nebraska is helping to foster business development, train the next generation of entrepreneurs and work with the private sector to grow the innovation economy in our state,” Milliken said. “The Assistant Secretary has outlined an impressive innovation agenda in which research universities play an important role – an agenda which the University of Nebraska certainly supports.”
Milliken met Fernandez earlier this year during a forum hosted by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke on “Catalyzing University Research for a Stronger Economy.” Milliken and Fernandez co-chaired a discussion group on regional innovation clusters. Impressed by Fernandez’s strong record in economic development and his agenda for an innovation economy, Milliken invited Fernandez to Nebraska.
Fernandez’s visit will include stops at a number of centers focused on economic development, including the Scott Technology Center and the Nebraska Business Development Center at UNO. He will tour two of the university’s top academic institutes – the Peter Kiewit Institute in Omaha and the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management in Lincoln – and will hear presentations on issues such as microenterprise development, family businesses, and transferring university-based technology to the marketplace.
Fernandez also will have dinner with young business leaders in Omaha; meet with board members for Nebraska Innovation Campus, the University Technology Development Corp. and NUTech Ventures; and receive an update on the new Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, for which a $20 million founding gift was announced earlier this year. Finally, Fernandez will visit Agile Sports Technologies, whose co-founders are Raikes School graduates and whose coaching software products are used by high school, college and professional sports teams around the nation.
In his current role, Fernandez runs the Economic Development Administration, which is focused on creating jobs on a collaborative, regional basis in order to prepare American regions for success in the global economy. With his extensive executive experience, Fernandez has earned a reputation as a strategic thinker, creative problem solver and effective manager.
Previously, Fernandez served as mayor of Bloomington, Ind., from 1996 to 2003. Under his leadership, Bloomington’s economy thrived. Fernandez worked with business and Indiana University leaders to launch Bloomington’s Life Sciences Partnership, securing more than $243 million in private investments and creating more than 3,700 jobs. He also developed an aggressive downtown revitalization plan that resulted in more than $100 million in new investments.
Fernandez led the new development and acquisition team at First Capital Group, an Indiana-based real estate investment firm, and served as Of Counsel for Krieg Devault, an Indianapolis-based law firm, where he advised private and governmental organizations on economic development, public finance and policy issues. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees from Indiana University.