[May 23, 2014]LINCOLN - The Executive and Economic
Development Committee of the Logan County Board met on Monday to
continue a discussion from the prior board workshop meeting. The
discussion was focused on the work being done by the multiple local
economic development groups to find a way to work together as part
of one organized effort.
Over the past few months, a number of groups in the county have
been working towards creating a unified organization for promoting
the county economically. The single organization would bring
together the Lincoln/Logan Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln & Logan
County Development Partnership, Main Street Lincoln and the Abraham
Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County into one entity. Prior to
Monday night, the city council of Lincoln voted to move forward with
their endorsement, intending to continue supporting such a concept.
At the workshop meeting held on Thursday the 15th, the county board
members held a straw vote for two motions. The first was a motion to
continue supporting the development of such an organization as a
concept. The second was a motion to pay an additional $2,000 to aid
in financing the rehiring of the consultant brought on to help guide
the groups through the process involved. The straw votes did not
indicate support for either motion, although the some board members
did not take part in the straw vote. The board’s vote on the motions
was expected to take place the next evening, Tuesday the 20th at the
regular board meeting.
Committee member Gene Rohlfs said he believes that in attempts to
consolidate such as this one, there needs to be a great deal of
trust in whoever will be operating such an organization. “Right now,
I don’t have that trust,” said Rohlfs.
Chuck Ruben said he would back that statement at the current time,
because nobody is sure what the structure of such an organization
will look like. “Once we know what that structure is, we’ll know
whether we should support it or not,” said Ruben.
Board member Kevin Bateman agreed with Ruben, saying that he is
waiting to see what the consultant says the groups should do in
creating a new committee to oversee operations. Bateman said he does
not plan on voting to support the concept of such a group, but he
will support the paying of said consultant to show the county what
should be done.
Ruben said he feels that voting to support one of these motions is
also a vote to support the other.
Not a member of this committee, but a county board member serving as
a liaison to the tourism bureau, and to the Unified Organization
Committee, Andy Anderson was present. Anderson said that hiring a
consultant was necessary for this process, as nobody in any of the
smaller organizations has any experience with this type of merger.
“Tourism is going to be the revenue generator, along with economic
development. I know they’re maybe going to rephrase those,” said
Anderson. Anderson also said that Main Street Lincoln would get
absorbed into the downtown economic efforts, and “you’ll still be
using some programs that Main Street has in there now,” said
Anderson. “We are still in the infancy stages…I’ll be surprised if
we’re done by the end of the year. Certain things have come into
Anderson said he wants to see the county board get behind this
effort now, and reminded the board members present that they can
always pull support in the near future if deemed necessary. Anderson
also said he thinks the county should have a seat on whatever board
is created for this group, and the county will likely earn that seat
with a financial contribution.
“I think we have to finish the process,” said Ruben.
Board member Jan Schumacher, who is also a county board
representative serving on the Unified Organization Committee, said
she wants to see such a group form because of the emphasis placed on
cooperation as part of the efforts so far.
“It’s not that we’re a mess, we’ve just never gone through this
process,” said Schumacher.
Committee Chairman David Hepler said he feels a lot of the
consultant’s efforts have been superficial so far, and he does not
agree with some of the findings the consultant highlighted in her
“I would vote to have the consultant put something together, but I’m
reticent to vote to support the concept yet, because I think it has
the potential for some one-sidedness,” said Hepler. Rohlfs later
expressed his agreement with Hepler’s potential fear.
Bateman said part of his reasoning for not wanting to support the
endeavor completely right now is because of past instances involving
a lack of cooperation between these groups. “There are a lot of
projects in the county that are running smooth, and I’m afraid the
brakes will be put on those because of such [problems],” said
Schumacher said she disagreed on the feelings of potential
one-sidedness. “For organizations to be willing to dissolve- that’s
huge. I think there’s been tremendous progress. Her report is not
superficial, it is a report of what we as a group came up with,”
said Schumacher. “And it represents amazing progress.”
Anderson reiterated his feelings that the county board will need to
have a seat on the new committee, and that from his understanding,
there would be a new director overseeing the entire organization.
“If we don’t get a spot, that represents no cooperation,” said
Executive and Economic Development Committee members present for the
discussions were Chairman David Hepler; Robert Farmer, Rick
Aylesworth, Gene Rohlfs and Chuck Ruben. Board members Andy
Anderson, Kevin Bateman, Emily Davenport and Jan Schumacher were
also present for the discussion.
On Tuesday when the board met for its Regular voting session, the
matter was brought before the full board again. The topic was
introduced and explained for two new board members and an update to
the remainder of the board.
Over the past few months, a number of groups in the county have been
working towards creating an umbrella organization for promoting the
county economically. The single organization would bring together
the Lincoln & Logan Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln & Logan County
Development Partnership, Main Street Lincoln and the Abraham Lincoln
Tourism Bureau. In April, the city council of Lincoln voted to move
forward with their endorsement, intending to continue supporting
such a concept.
In previous meetings, the county board members discussed a motion to
continue supporting the development of this concept. The second
motion discussed was to pay an additional $2,000 to aid in financing
the rehiring of the consultant brought on to help guide the groups
through the process involved. Straw votes taken so far had not
indicated support for either motion. At the meeting of the whole
board, the motions were voted on.
“This is something we really need to get on board with,” said
Anderson. “Everybody else is on board.”
“We’re the only entity that has not voted on it,” said Schumacher.
“I’m in favor of hiring the consultant, but the concept or whatever
you want to call it, I’m not in favor of that at all. There’s too
many unanswered questions to say ‘yeah, let’s move forward.’ Let’s
see what the consultant has to say,” said Bateman. Bateman later
added that he is glad to see the county board discuss the issue at
length, rather than just make a quick decision because it seems like
the thing to do.
The votes on the motions were as follows:
The county board voted not to support the creation of such a
group as a concept based off of the information and impressions
they have received so far. In addition, a motion was made by
Bateman to table the discussion on approving the concept until
after the consultant has provided more information. The
amendment was approved with Rohlfs and Anderson voting no.
The board members did approve paying $2,000 as part of the
fee for rehiring the consultant who has worked with the groups
so far, with a vote of seven to four, with Farmer, Blankenship,
Meister, and Rohlfs voting no.