Friday, July 18, 2014
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City of Lincoln prepares to vote on UOC participation

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[July 18, 2014]  LINCOLN - Tuesday evening at the Lincoln City Council's Committee of the Whole, Mayor Keith Snyder and Alderman Tom O’Donohue offered an update on the progress being made by the Unified Organizations Committee (UOC).

The UOC formed earlier this year with a goal of examining the various organizations within the county that work to promote economic growth and stability within the county. Included in that list of organizations is the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce, the Development Partnership of Lincoln and Logan County, the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau, Main Street Lincoln, the city of Lincoln, and the county of Logan.

One key component of the examination was to identify redundancy within the various organizations and determine would they be more effective in their efforts if they combined resources. In defining resources, this meant not only cash but manpower.

Tuesday evening Snyder offered a review of the purpose of the UOC, then moved on to discuss the most recent 2-day meeting of the committee held at the end of June.

He explained that for that meeting the UOC, which has representation from all of the involved organizations and governmental bodies, had expanded to include representation from Atlanta, Mount Pulaski, and a member representing downtown Lincoln.

The primary work of the group had been to clarify what the unified organization would look like, to define 'competency-based board' and to define 'community.' Snyder said they defined 'community' as all of Logan County. “There was a concern going in by some communities going in, that this would be a Lincoln effort,” Snyder said. “We defined as 'all of Logan County' the cities and villages, and also a regional trade area folks that we do business with and others that do business here, to have their needs and concerns addressed as we move forward as an organization.”

The group also established the new “organizational model."

Snyder had provided the council with paper copies of a power point presentation from the last meeting. He asked O’Donohue to discuss the organizational model with the council. O’Donohue first directed the group to slide 6 (see pdf, page 6) in the presentation.

From the outside, the new organization will appear to be a larger more complex chamber of commerce. All six organizations will roll together and operate under the chamber, using the chamber tax identifications and employer identification numbers.

There will be a 7-member competency-based board of directors who will be responsible for four councils. The councils will include the "New Business Development Council," "Advocate, Promote Current Business Council," "Tourism/Promote Hospitality Council," and "Educate to Employ Council." There will be one chief executive officer, who will answer directly to the board of directors.

O’Donohue said the current chamber board has voted to disband, so the new board can move into its roll at the appropriate time.

The councils will look similar to the organizations that are rolling into them, such as the Tourism/Promote Hospitality Council will do much of the same work as the current tourism bureau and Main Street Lincoln organization.

O’Donohue pointed out the fourth council, Educate to Employ, saying this was a new concept that would not reflect any past organizations. He pointed out the goal of this council would be to reach out to the 20 to 30-year-old population and entice them to stay in the community. He mentioned that one step in this direction has already begun with the Lincoln Land CEO project that is being developed. The program for area high schools is expected to start in Fall 2015.

O’Donohue quickly reviewed the information on slide 8 (see Pdf, page 8) that defines the role of the board of directors. He then moved on to the qualifications of the board members.

The new board of directors will be selected based on specific qualifications. The list of qualifications includes personal traits such as willingness to commit, passion and purpose, impartiality, self-awareness and ability to self-evaluate to name a few. There will also be consideration given to the public perception of the candidate; whether they are respected by their peers and seen as influential.

In addition, board members will need to have skill-based competencies. The list on slide eight indicates these could be knowledge and experience in technology, government relations, agriculture, the tourism/hospitality industry, and education to name just a few.

The process for appointing a new board will be a complex procedure. It begins with a nominating committee. They would identify at least 14 viable candidates.

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The nominating committee, which is in place, consists of three of the original UOC committee members, plus two other persons. The members of the committee are David Lanterman, Eric Graue, Tracy Welch, Todd Cyrulik and Bridget Schneider.

Once the candidates are identified, a vote will be taken. The board of directors will be voted on by the people appointed by the participating membership. O’Donohue explained how this would work.

Right now there are six entities including the county and city that have the potential to participate in the UOC. Each of these entities must vote on whether or not they want to be a part of the UOC, and with that vote comes financial support.

On slide 13 of the pdf is a breakdown of each organization and the monetary support that would be anticipated. Each organization will have a specific number of votes that is calculated according to the percentage of financial support they are contributing.

In the model provided, if all six groups participate, the chamber group will have the largest number of votes with 21. They also constitute the largest financial contribution with an estimated $440,000 per year. Main Street Lincoln will have one vote, the Development Partnership, and county, would each have two votes, the city would get five, and the tourism bureau would have nine. There would also be 12 votes not associated with financial support that would be designated to other local municipalities not currently in the UOC.

O’Donohue pointed out that these numbers were based on all six organizations supporting the UOC. Any organization has the right to opt out. In doing so, they would not be responsible for financial contributions, and they would not be allowed to send a voting representative to the table.

Another point O’Donohue stressed was that the voters would not be influenced in their vote by the organization that chose them. Once they are appointed as voters, they will vote their conscience on the board candidates.

He explained saying, “For instance, if the city contributes, then we get ‘x’ amount of votes, and the city decides who gets those votes. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is any of us, but it could be. The city basically decides who is going to represent those votes, but those people vote however they want to vote. The city cannot say ‘this is who you are going to vote for,’ so the voting does become independent.

As O’Donohue wrapped up his discussion he said all six entities need to have made their decision to participate or not by August 1st in order for the UOC to stay on track. The city will place their vote next Monday night.

By way of discussion, Melody Anderson was the only one to pose a question. She asked, “If one of the organizations you have on here chose not to participate, how would that affect this.”

O’Donohue explained that if the city for example would decide not to vote then their votes would be shifted to participating entities. The final goal would be to maintain the ratio that 75 percent of the votes come from the participating agencies and 25 percent will come from the other municipalities in the county.

O’Donohue also told the group that voting against joining the UOC at this time would not permanently exclude anyone. Any one of the entities who might opt out at this time, can certainly return at a later date and re-join the group. What they will lose by opting out is representation in the selection of the UOC’s board of directors.

Other details that were mentioned are included in slide 9 of the pdf and referred to as the “Rules of Engagement.” Board members once elected will have term limits. Each member may serve two two-year terms then they have to rotate off the board. The board members will also be asked to commit to 100 percent attendance. O’Donohue noted the provision that stated any board member missing three meetings in a row will be automatically terminated from his/her position.

Unified Organization Committee presentation (Pdf)


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