Pillen seeks applicants to fill vacancy left by abrupt resignation of state economic development director

By: - April 18, 2023 6:19 pm
Good Life

“The Good Life is Calling” is among the programs run by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, which is seeking a new director. (Courtesy Nebraska DED)

LINCOLN — Gov. Jim Pillen has set a deadline of May 2 for applications to fill the vacancy left by the recent resignation of Tony Goins, the director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

Goins resigned April 5 after an investigation by the Nebraska Examiner uncovered instances in which he had used state email to funnel state business to a Lincoln cigar lounge in which he was majority owner, and promote a campaign event at the bar.

The Capital Cigar Lounge also received two state pandemic recovery grants from the agency he had headed since being appointed by then-Gov. Pete Ricketts in 2019.

State law prohibits state agency directors from earning profit from an outside business, other than for service on a corporation board, and from using state resources to promote a political candidate. Officials are also banned from taking action or making a decision that results in financial benefit to themselves, an immediate family member or a “business with which he or she is associated.”

Pillen, in a press release Tuesday, set a May 2 deadline for applicants for the position, which had paid $215,000 a year.

Applications can be made via the Governor’s “Boards and Commissions” portal, in writing to the Office of the Governor (P.O. Box 94848 Lincoln, NE 68509-4848), or online at

In addition, Pillen named Joe Fox, DED’s director of business development, as the interim director pending the hiring of a new director.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.