Pennsylvania turned up at No. 20, while that diamond in corporations' eyes, Delaware, was No. 14.
All in all, not a bad showing for the region, given the lumps of coal unearthed by the data-mining of other ranking organizations.
A big reason is that Nebraska's index has five components based on government data: percentage growth and per-capita growth in business establishments, the business-formation rate, the number of patents per thousand residents, and the gross receipts of sole proprietorships and partnerships per capita.
So this isn't simply taking one measure, say business starts, and ranking the states by it. The addition of intellectual property and the size of actual sales are key ingredients in how this index evaluates regions by their appetite for risk.
Of those components, net establishment growth tends to be the most volatile, said Eric Thompson, the economics professor behind the index. The statistic reflects the business condition of each state. Economic downturns do tend to hold back business formation, and depending on which sectors get hardest hit, states feel the effects differently.
The exercise began a few years ago as a way to show Nebraskans how they fared against the rest of the country, Thompson said. This year, they released the results nationally.
And even though Nebraska was ranked this year at No. 21, right below Pennsylvania, he tells his fellow Cornhuskers they should be proud.
"We're average entrepreneurially in a very entrepreneurially active country," said Thompson, who grew up in Buffalo.
That's not hyperbole. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, crafted by researchers at the London School of Business and Babson College, backs Thompson on that point. Of the 41 nations it measured by "total early-stage entrepreneurship activity," the highest-rated "innovation-driven" countries were Iceland, Australia, and the United States.
So being average entrepreneurially - as Pennsylvania is - in the middle of the Nebraska index is not a bad place to be in that context.
It's certainly better than the 2010 Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity that had Pennsylvania among the worst states. Just 180 adult Pennsylvanians per 100,000 could be classified as entrepreneurs. That was only good enough to beat West Virginia (170 per 100,000).
No pithy "Start Your Business Here" ad campaigns can be built around being ranked in the middle of an index. But Pennsylvania and New Jersey did climb eight places each in the State Entrepreneurship Index since the university's Bureau of Business Research ran the numbers two years ago.
Up is better than down. And given ups and downs we've all witnessed so far this month, I'll take up any day.
Tuesday: H.J. Heinz; Wednesday: Toll Bros.; Thursday: Dollar Financial.
Contact Mike Armstrong
at 215-854-2980, email@example.com, or @PhillyInc on Twitter. Read his blog, "PhillyInc," at www.phillyinc.biz