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Unified Organization Committee reaches consensus and makes great headway in merger process

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[July 02, 2014]  LOGAN COUNTY - The Unified Organizations Committee (UOC) met for two and a half days last week to successfully reach consensus on a plan that will merge the four local community organizations: the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership, the Logan County Tourism Bureau, and Main Street Lincoln.

The UOC meeting included representatives from the City of Lincoln, Logan County Board, Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Lincoln, Tourism, Development Partnership, and community members. The sessions, held from Wednesday evening through Friday noon at the Lincoln Rural Firehouse, were led and facilitated by consultant Marit Peters from Albuquerque, NM.

The UOC had five objectives for the meeting: 1) clarify the committee’s charge, 2) define “community” and the community’s vision for the future, 3) review organizational models and share updates on current state of each organization, 4) define the governance model for the ‘new’ organization, and 5) establish a process for implementing the new organizational model with timelines.

Since the UOC had not met with the consultant since February, it was important that the group define its charge and agree upon the ultimate purpose of the committee itself. By agreeing on their charge, everyone present could understand the work of the group and when that work was complete. The UOC’s charge included finalizing the structure and governance of the ‘new’ organization, defining a competency-based board and the process/plan to get to that new board, establishing concrete deadlines and a timeline for completion, and development of a communication plan to share the committee’s work with the community.

The UOC defined “community” as not just Lincoln, but all of Logan County. The UOC felt firmly that the community that we all want to advance and promote includes all the cities/villages in Logan County, farmers, all civic organizations, businesses in county (including those in downtowns and business districts), property owners in the county, residents in unincorporated Logan County, individuals who live in the county but work elsewhere, and educational institutions.

The group reaffirmed a shared vision for the community that was originally developed by a focus group of Logan County citizens in February of this year:

  • A clear, common brand for the community (a clear identity that is well-articulated, that creates pride, esteem & unity; clear signage for out-of-towners; successes that feel like county successes)
  • A healthy economy (job opportunities and an employable workforce)
  • Leveraged & promoted our assets (events, destinations, new museum, convenient location, using our facilities to host – ‘heads in beds’)
  • Vibrant downtowns (more boutique retail, more businesses, better atmosphere, streetscapes – support for new & existing businesses)
  • Improved government relationships (between the cities and the county)
  • Colleges that are here and are thriving and growing (with mentorship programs between colleges and businesses)
  • Education systems are collaborating & leveraging each other’s resources and that have a consistent plan to coordinate school, activities, and vocations
  • More medium-income and accessible housing available
  • More technology alternatives and more competition between providers
  • Greater citizen engagement

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The four organizations will be merged into a new organization that will retain the current Chamber of Commerce’s employer identification number, tax ID number, etc., with a new structure. The “new” Chamber will be governed by a new seven-person, competency-based board of directors. The new board of directors will be assisted through the creation of four new councils, each providing the board information and guidance in a particular area of expertise. The four councils that will be established are: new business development council; advocacy and current businesses promotion council; tourism and hospitality promotion council; and educate to employ council.

The role of the new board will be to function as a governing body for the organization with all the same duties as any high functioning non-profit board of directors, including such duties such as: fiduciary stewardship;, creating the vision, mission, and values of the organization, setting policies, goals, and objectives; and hiring, overseeing, and evaluating the CEO of the organization.

Both general and functional competencies were established and defined for the new board members. These competencies will help the UOC narrow the search for strong qualified leaders for the new organization.

The plan and timeline for the integration of the four organizations will kick off with creation of a nominating committee to recruit candidates for the new board. The UOC is currently working to recruit and identify five members of this committee (three members from the UOC and two from community). The nominating committee will work with UOC-established board member selection criteria to develop a recruiting, selection, and interview process for candidates of the new board by the end of August.

In August, the nominating committee will put out a call to the community to serve on the board. Interested individuals will complete applications by the end of August. In September, the nominating committee will interview all qualified candidates to narrow the selection to fourteen individuals. A vote will take place in October to select the seven new board members with an eye towards having all the new members seated no later than November 1st for the board to be prepared for orientation and training to ready them for their new roles.

Each of the six organizations (City, County, Chamber, Partnership, Tourism, and Main Street) will be asked to commit and clarify contributions to the new organization by August 1, 2014. The voting for the new board of directors will be weighted with 75% of the vote going to organizations committed to the new organization. The other 25% of the vote will be shared by the smaller municipalities in Logan County that are not currently involved in the UOC. The UOC is still working on the details to determine who will facilitate the voting process.

The goal is to have all the organizations integrated by the end of this year (2014).

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