The group is an evolution from the
recent "Boomtown USA" meetings hosted by the Lincoln/Logan County
Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Network.
Michael Gowin served as the moderator
with assistance from Patrick Doolin. Gowin told the group he was not
the leader of the group, but had been asked to serve only as the
moderator of all discussions. He said he wanted to start by talking
about what has taken place since the last meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting,
Gowin talked about "We Are Lincoln" versus Boomtown, saying that it
was somewhat of a misinterpretation to connect the We Are Lincoln
movement with Boomtown USA, though admittedly, the group has evolved
from that to what it is now.
The first Boomtown meeting came in
October at Lincoln Community High School and focused on creating a
sense of entrepreneurship in local youth, finding ways to keep them
in the community after college, and interacting with them in a
productive way in the interim.
Guest speakers Craig Lindvahl and
Jack Schultz spoke at the first meeting about the talent they have
discovered in other areas by implementing a CEO program for high
school-age students. They spoke on the "Creating Entrepreneurial
Opportunities" program that was started in Effingham and how
students there became involved in their own small-business projects.
They also talked about some of the tremendous successes those
students have realized after completing the program.
The CEO program is something the
chamber is still very interested in pursuing, but it was what came
after that first meeting that lit the fire for We Are Lincoln.
After that first meeting, the Young
Professionals Network set a date for a Boomtown Roundtable meeting
to occur at ALMH. At practically the same time, an article written
by a former Lincolnite was published and broadcast through National
Public Radio that painted Lincoln as a decaying city with drug
issues and high crime.
Many local citizens were offended
by the article, but they were also motivated. They were driven to
ask themselves if that was the perception of the city to people
outside the community, and if it was, how that could be addressed
The end result was that so many
RSVP'd to the Boomtown Roundtable that the venue had to be changed
to the Lincoln Park District Ballroom. When the meeting took place,
the discussion quickly veered to the negative article and
discussions of how to make the city a better place.
At that meeting, Doolin served as
the moderator with assistance from Blinn Bates of the YPN, and Craig
Lindvahl was on hand. Throughout the evening, members of the
audience openly talked about what is needed in the city of Lincoln
to make it more attractive to young professionals, people looking to
move into Lincoln and those who visit.
A wide variety of ideas came out of
that meeting. At the end of the night, Doolin told the group that
talk was good, but what was needed was action. He offered them an
opportunity to make lists on large pieces of paper outlining what
needed to be done.
[to top of second
Last Wednesday evening, when the group
met for the first time as We Are Lincoln, those same pieces of paper
were brought out again, and the group was encouraged to talk about
their lists and how to accomplish the goals on the lists.
Doolin talked about the CEO program
and said that it was a project he intended to stay involved in,
along with the chamber.
In the audience was Lincoln High
School Superintendent Robert Bagby.
Doolin said there have been
discussions with Bagby regarding the CEO program, and the wheels are
in motion. He told the group that the CEO program won't come soon,
though, because Lindvahl is limiting the number of programs he opens
each year so as to maintain the integrity of the program. Opening a
few each year allows Lindvahl to be certain that each new program
gets plenty of attention from him and gets off to a good start.
Doolin concluded that Lindvahl
knows there is interest here in Lincoln for the CEO program, and it
will come within the next couple of years.
After Doolin's update, Gowin
returned to the lists. He asked about the need for a single resource
for information about Lincoln. David Doolin then spoke about this.
He told the group that preparing
for a single source of information was going to be a large
undertaking, but something that was needed. He said when searching
Lincoln on the Internet, one can come up with several bits and
pieces, but there is no one place that puts everything together to
make a complete picture. He said for those who are not familiar with
the area, having a single location for everything is very important.
He said he saw the single source as
a "hub in the wheel" resource. He said the idea was to create a site
that would bring searchers in, based on a broad search. Then, once
they are at the site, they would have options of other places to go
to see more specific information about the community.
Patrick Doolin commented on this
from the last meeting, saying this single source was something
people seemed to want: a source where they could track what is going
on in the community and also learn about the various organizations
and other points of interest.
This report will continue in Part
2, when the group moves on to other items on the first set of lists
and talks what to do next to move certain projects forward.
[By NILA SMITH]
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