Tuesday, September 15, 2009
sponsored by Graue Inc.

Lincoln holds 1st Economic Development Summit

Part 2: A door opens for change in Lincoln and Logan County

(Part 1: Vision set for participants)

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[September 15, 2009]  Review from Part 1:

When it came time to turn the work of Saturday's summit over to participants, guest speaker and moderator John Cox challenged: "What would you like to get out of the next few hours?"

Their response was to come out of the meeting unified, with a plan of action.

Cox affirmed that unity was vital to success, saying that the major city of any county is its heart, and the heart needs to be healthy if the entire county is to thrive.

His next observation was that to be successful they had to communicate well, and there had to be trust in the group.

Part 2

As Cox was speaking about trust, Alderwoman Marty Neitzel raised her hand. As she offered her view, many heads in the room were bobbing up and down, agreeing that she was making a good point about an issue that did indeed need to be addressed.

Neitzel said: "You're talking about trust and I believe in that wholeheartedly, and I think that is the No. 1 thing that is wrong with this town, is trust."

She went on to say: "We have economic development that has things going on, chamber will have things going on, and city will have things going on. I believe that one person out of all those areas should know everything that is going on. There are times when we have (new) businesses in Lincoln and the city council is the last to know. Trust is a key in this town, and we go along with a mindset of 'NO trust,' and we need to change that mindset."

Cox quickly added to Neitzel's comments as he wrote out the word trust, then drew a heart around the center letters, saying, "At the heart of TRUST is US. That is one thing that a large group like this can do in a working setting, is develop that trust."

County board chair Terry Carlton then moved the question on to the true mindset of the county. "Do we really want to change, and who do we think that we are (now)?" he asked. "Do we think we're a small bedroom community, the center of an agriculture community, and do we really want to change, and what will that change be?"

Carlton concluded his remarks by saying that the community needs to "get over our old self and say for Lincoln and Logan County, for our future, for our children: What do we really want to become?"

Keith Ray, president of Lincoln Christian University, added some thoughts on the key word "mindset."

Ray had earlier said that he had been in Lincoln 20 years, then left for a period and now has returned. Having last lived in the Dallas, Texas, area, he has noticed that the mindset of the Midwest is quite different from other areas of the country.

This was something Ray has always wanted to try to understand, and he finally found some answers in a book entitled "Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism," by Richard Longworth.

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Ray said: "It is the most amazing analysis of the Midwestern mindset, such as anti-change, anti-new, anti-entrepreneurial, would rather go hunting than solve problems."

Though many chuckled at the reference to hunting, the point also seemed to be hitting the mark. Ray, still commenting on the book, continued: "It is broad-sweeping, but the most penetrating analysis I've ever seen. He analyzes the dismal situation in the Midwest and then he proposes some of the strengths of the Midwest. He captivated the Midwestern mindset."

Cox later said that if the core group would get ahold of this book and perhaps have someone from one of the colleges guide them through it, it could prove to be a valuable asset to them.

In the end Ray volunteered to purchase 20 copies of the book "Caught in the Middle" for the group, and the mayor said that any over 20 he would purchase for the group himself.

LDN's next segment will address the group's answers to the question, "What are our strengths?"


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