Friday, Feb. 18


Is Logan County's future in economic development?     Send a link to a friend

[FEB. 18, 2005]  "You can cut your budget to the bone, but that is not going to fix the problem," Rob Orr, Lincoln/Logan County Development Partnership director, said to a full Logan County Board at last night's meeting. Until we start increasing jobs we are not going to get better, he added.

The county has been watching its budget tighten for several years, as expenses increase and revenues decrease, and is now faced with the possibility of layoffs and reduced services next year.

This will continue to happen until we make a concerted effort to change it. "We have to invest in this community," Orr said.

The partnership's first goal is to attain more jobs and job retention. It is the way of our future in Logan County, according Orr.

Next come GIS development and comprehensive planning. These two work hand-in-hand to market us to the world. Whether it is residential, business, industry or commercial development, anyone looking at us can get a quick view of all we have to offer if these things are in place. We are behind other communities that have their geographic information systems done.

Several political factors have come into play against us, Orr said. We are a Republican county. The state is in serious financial straits. There are federal funds available in grants but we cannot qualify for most of those, as they require an up-to-date, comprehensive plan, Orr said.

Our comprehensive plan is over 30 years old with few updates done to it. That puts us at a disadvantage to other communities in several ways. Areas of the community and county need to be planned by types of development, such as residential, industrial, agricultural and commercial zoning.

With that done it is much easier to approve developments and to plan and finance infrastructure, such as roads and sewers, to these areas. Such planning not only speeds development, but also everyone is happier with their neighbors that are living or working next to them.

We have to be ready to provide information for site development when we get calls from interested developers and potential employers. We need tax structures and incentives to offer them. When companies call they want answers in 24 to 48 hours, Orr said. We are not ready when companies contact us because there are no advance preparations.

Lincoln and many towns throughout Logan County are prime locations for economic development. With hundreds of acres available to develop, we can still maintain our agriculture and farm community living style. We could attract warehouse distribution and other non-offensive industries. We need to look for opportunities to expand our agriculture-related businesses.

[to top of second column in this article]

Disadvantages Logan County faces in competition for development

  • No sites developed.
  • Other communities have sites ready to go.
  • No up-to-date, comprehensive plan in place.
  • Getting zoning approval, infrastructure in place is too much effort and time-consuming when other communities have this done already.

What Logan County has going for it

  • Great transportation through rail and highway access.
  • Accessible, diverse work force.
  • Outstanding, easily accessible health care system.
  • Good schools.
  • Land for development.

Downtown Lincoln is alive and more attractive than most communities our size, with storefronts mostly full, streets beautifully paved. The same can be said of other nearby communities like Elkhart and Mount Pulaski.

"We have something that people would like to live in," Orr said.

Full cooperation of the county and the city

We all need to work together. Logan County is too small to have factions.

We need to look to the future of our children. Hopefully we can create jobs here for them so that when they graduate from high school and college they can buy a home here and stay.

"This board is more responsive and proactive than in years past," Orr said, expressing his appreciation.

"I realize you are facing severe and significant budget constraints," he said. "You have got to solve the problem. The only way out is to grow yourself out through jobs and economic development. Invest what you have; you have to invest in the future."

The airport and farm committee recommended last Tuesday that if there is no other means of raising the funds, a portion of the sale of the county farm could be used toward economic development.

Finance chairman Chuck Ruben made a motion that showed approval by applause to support the economic development efforts by Rob Orr and the development partnership.

[Jan Youngquist]

< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor