As that first summit progressed, a number of ideas were thrown out
for everyone to discuss and think about. Some were long-range goals
that will take time to accomplish; some were suggestions that could
be acted on immediately.
One of those immediate needs was brought
to light by Alderwoman Marty Neitzel when she said: "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."
Soon after that first summit meeting, Snyder decided that he
needed to act on Neitzel's comment and bring the city, economic
development, the chamber, tourism and Main Street Lincoln together
once a month in his office for an informal chat on what each group
is doing in the community.
Nicknamed the "Gang of Five," those who participate are Snyder,
Andi Hake of the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce, Wanda Lee
Rohlfs of Main Street Lincoln, Geoff Ladd of the Abraham Lincoln
Tourism Bureau of Logan County, and Joel Smiley of the Lincoln &
Logan County Development Partnership.
When asked if the group thought that the Gang of Five was
beneficial, it was Smiley who spoke up, saying that it had helped
him a great deal.
"Before the mayor came in, we never had meetings like this.
Because of these, at least my knowledge base has gone up," Smiley
He went on to say that he does interact daily with tourism and
chamber because they are all in the same building, but Main Street,
on the other hand, he hasn't known that much about until recently.
Mayor Keith Snyder (center) with
Wanda Lee Rohlfs and Joel Smiley
Ladd commented, though, that he felt the public perception in
regard to the chamber, tourism and Main Street is not as accurate
as the reality. He commented, "Our three groups, because of the nature
of what we all do with the overlap in tourism, we're always working
While these groups may interact well together, the key issue may
be how well the mayor and the city have fit into the scheme of
things in the past, and how it is changing now.
"Since Mayor Snyder has been on board, our interaction with the
city has increased tenfold, even 100-fold," Hake said. "With
meetings like this and Keith's involvement in other areas, not just
the chamber but in the community as a whole, it has helped a lot."
[to top of second column]
Rohlfs said that the group was of benefit to all of them in that
it marked a special time that they all sat down together.
"We all serve as ex officio members on each other's board, but we
don't have time to go to everybody else's board meetings," she
explained. "This is good because it gives us an opportunity to sit
and talk. And, I think it is important that the community be able to
see that interaction, not just here in this room, but out in the
public as well."
Rohlfs added that as time progresses and the group truly gets on
board with each other's programs, future goals may involve more
collaboration when organizing events.
When asked if the Gang of Five was missing anyone -- was there
someone not at the table who should be? -- the group as a whole
thought they were pretty well complete.
Rohlfs commented that this particular group is dealing
specifically with the city of Lincoln. She said that if someone came
to their attention who could offer good input that would benefit the
city, they would be encouraged to join in.
Snyder enforced Rohlfs' comment, saying that the group is not
exclusive: "These four groups -- five with the city -- are all
trying to promote the city and trying to grow and advance the
interests of the city and its citizens. If there are others that
should be here, they would be welcomed."
So what does the future hold for the Gang of Five? They will
continue keeping their lines of communication open, sharing
information and looking for opportunities to showcase Lincoln.
They will draw on the strengths of each organization and present
to the community a unity of purpose that perhaps has not been seen
by its citizens for quite some time.
Geoff Ladd and Andi Hake
[By NILA SMITH]