Monday, December 16, 2013
 
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'We Are Lincoln'

Group moves forward with putting words into action  Part 1

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[December 16, 2013]  Last Wednesday evening a group of about 25 Lincoln citizens met at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital. The goal of the meeting was to find a starting point for putting words into actions.

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 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 and changed.

The end result was that so many RSVP'd to the Boomtown meeting 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.

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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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