We are fortunate in Nebraska to have one of the strongest economies in the country. Our unemployment rate is 4.1% while the national average is more than double at 8.5%. Nebraska is recognized nationally as a top state in which to do business and we continue to grow and create jobs in our state.
Our enviable position is the result of years of planning and implementing business-friendly policy. Six years ago, a new package of economic incentives known as the Nebraska Advantage went into effect that has helped attract outstanding new business opportunities to Nebraska while helping existing businesses expand.
We worked closely with the Legislature to develop and pass legislation creating the Nebraska Advantage, which was the first comprehensive update to Nebraska's economic incentives since the mid 1980's. Our goal was to stimulate statewide economic development and job creation. The resulting Nebraska Advantage is a performance based economic incentive program that rewards the creation of higher paying jobs.
Today, Nebraska is a global contender for businesses in a number of targeted industries because we worked closely with local leaders and the business community to promote opportunities that make Nebraska a competitive and attractive place to do business.
Aggressively recruiting businesses and utilizing the Nebraska Advantage has been successful in growing our state's economy. Since the inception of the Nebraska Advantage in 2005, 269 companies plan to invest $5.9 billion in our economy and create more than 19,000 new jobs.
By industry, this translates to 36 projects at $2.9 billion and more than 2,100 jobs in the bio-medical and renewable fuels industries; 63 projects at $1.4 billion and more than 5,600 jobs in the telecommunications and related industries; 147 projects at $1 billion and more than 6,300 jobs in the manufacturing and processing industries; and 38 projects at $526 million and more than 5,300 jobs in financial and insurance services.
By location, 142 businesses have been established in the Omaha metropolitan service area with 53 businesses in the Lincoln metropolitan service area and 89 projects are in greater Nebraska.
From January 2006 through December 2011, a total of 111 companies applied for Nebraska Advantage Rural, resulting in a potential $223 million investment and 374 jobs. Finally 109 projects are currently under contract through the Customized Job Training Advantage with an investment of $16 million and more than 9,200 jobs.
Additionally, the Nebraska Internship Program is an important component of Nebraska's strategic economic plan. It is designed to enhance technology and innovation, and assure a technology-focused workforce for Nebraska companies. With this initiative, Nebraska has one of the strongest public policy strategies in place to advance business recruitment and development.
Intern Nebraska is a win-win for students seeking valuable business experience to further shape their future careers and to keep our youth in Nebraska. It's critical for business owners who are focused on developing a quality workforce to meet the demands of our vastly changing global economy.
Currently, 156 companies have filed applications to participate in Intern Nebraska with 115 of those approved. Of the approved candidates, nearly 40% are looking forward to welcoming interns to their rural Nebraska companies. Whether you're a student seeking an internship, or company official interested in participating in the program, you'll find more information at: http://InternNE.com.
We continue to create initiatives that build a talented workforce, encourage entrepreneurship and have a positive impact on the economy of our state. The Nebraska Advantage and the Nebraska Internship Program are helping move Nebraska forward.