Three issues were also
targeted as needing improvement between government bodies and
business development entities: better communications, trust and that
there should be one person in each area who knows everything that is
With opened minds, the participants launched into
identifying potential materials for use to lay a future foundation.
As the second half of the meeting began, Cox divided the room
into three groups and gave them a new challenge: to identify the
strengths of the community.
Part 1 for participants.)
The first group to present their answers consisted of Alley,
Bacon, Conrady, Neitzel, Rohlfs, Schonauer and Snyder, with Snyder
being the presenter.
Snyder said that his group had made a list, then went back and
identified the top five strengths.
educational system that includes public schools, parochial
schools and colleges.
diversity. Snyder commented that years ago most of the areas
would have been stronger, but still Lincoln is diversified, with
a wide variety of businesses as well as industry.
Medical access --
a new hospital going up as well as assisted living through
Castle Manor for the senior population.
-- being not only located in the center of the state, but also
with access to major highways and rail.
The historical aspects of the city and
county and the connections with both Abraham Lincoln and Route
Other strengths the group identified were the green spaces and
parks in the area, the park district facilities, the local
festivals, and the fact that Lincoln is a walkable community with a
nice downtown area with potential for improvement.
The group noted the city's big homes, big trees and brick
streets, saying that they were a sightseeing attraction of their
They also identified the community as safe, with a variety of
available housing, diversity in faith and plenty of empty spaces
that could be re-purposed. In addition they noted the county had
strong agricultural connections as well as a strong work ethic.
Rick Hamm, a local agent with State Farm Insurance, served as the
spokesman for the second group, which included Mary Ahillen,
superintendent of Lincoln Elementary Schools; Carlton; Ferry; Horn;
Lisa Kramer of Hanson Professional Services; and Haji Patel, who
owns several small businesses, including Famous Liquor and Quiznos.
Hamm said that his group had duplicated Snyder's on a few points,
but they had also come up with some different things.
In relation to surrounding areas, the local sales tax rate is
comparable, and in regard to business property taxes, the Logan
County rate is somewhat lower than surrounding areas.
They added the airport to their transportation strengths, but
noted that it is currently underserved and could benefit the area
more if it were expanded.
The LDC campus is a strength with potential for future
Hamm also said that they would add to the point of the downtown
area that there are nice, older neighborhoods surrounding the
downtown area that are in pretty good condition.
The last group to speak consisted of local businessman Dave
Doolin, Dolan Dalpoas of Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, Elam,
Tom Funk, Hake, Hulett, Ladd and Smiley. Speaking for the group was
[to top of second column]
Again there was some repetition, but this group also offered some
Their list included the enterprise zone and the available space
left in the zone.
There are wind energy possibilities, and a high number of
available transmission lines make it more attractive to wind
Potential for physical growth was labeled as a huge asset to the
community, as well as the low cost of living.
Hake said that the group also noted that in smaller communities
such as Lincoln, it is easier for new people to come into the
community and right away get involved with the community.
She said that the group had discussed hometown loyalty as
strength, but they had also recognized this as a "double-edged
sword." As the group talked through this, they considered that being
loyal to locally owned businesses was good, but at the same time it
could make things difficult for new businesses coming in from the
outside. In addition, Hake had pointed out that when local business
owners know they have that loyal following, they sometimes become
complacent in offering the kind of customer service that their
Hake told the room that her group had also recognized as one of
the greatest strengths the number of "idea people" in the community,
and Cox quickly asked if those people were in the room, to which
Hake answered that indeed many of them were.
She went on with the list, noting that the community has a strong
sense of volunteerism. She commented on the 1,000-plus who have
joined forces in the Together for Lincoln projects as well as the
300 or more who give their time to the success of the annual Lincoln
Art & Balloon Festival.
And finally the group added as one of the community's strengths
the existing industry in the city. She named specifically Eaton,
International Paper and the Saint-Gobain glass factory, noting that they had been added not only for the jobs that they produce,
but also for what they give back to the community.
In the next segment, Cox asks the group to identify what makes
Lincoln and Logan County unique.
As they compile their short list, questions arise about the wind
farms, such as, "Will we be littered with windmills?" and "Are we
being too shortsighted?"
[By NILA SMITH]
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