(This column appeared in the August 2022 edition of Strictly Business Magazine, written by Chamber and LPED President Jason Ball)
The business community of Lincoln recognizes the need to craft our own future. A quote from computer scientist Alan Kay sums it up best —“the only way you can predict the future is to build it.”
Lincoln already has the creativity, technology and community assets to be a growing, competitive city for the next 50 years. It is time to evaluate our strengths and needs, and intelligently plan, as we will be creating plans to build the economic vitality of Lincoln from a position of strength.
I want to share about two initiatives that the business community will be leading with the Lincoln Chamber to chart the course for our city’s future. Both will require collaboration, forward-thinking and ingenuity to execute to benefit Lincoln in the years to come.
First, the Lincoln Chamber continues to develop and plan for a future that maximizes community prosperity. The Chamber has engaged with two consulting firms, Broad Ripple Strategies and DMOproz, to develop an Economic Vitality Strategy focused on defining a vision for our city’s economic future and how to achieve it. The Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development’s recent Economic Development Breakfast featured a keynote address from Alex Pearlstein, consultant and principal at Broad Ripple Strategies. His presentation laid the groundwork for the process we will use to gather input and perspectives from community leadership to establish new goals and set priorities among our many opportunities.
A key part of this process is asking community stakeholders to share their thoughts on Lincoln’s current challenges, opportunities and priorities for the years ahead. The Lincoln Chamber is seeking input from the entire community about these needs, opportunities and priorities. Those interested in taking the survey can make their voice heard by visiting lcoc.com/economic-strategy to offer feedback. It should take 10 minutes or less to complete.
Second, our city needs additional resources and civic infrastructure. As Lincoln grows through business expansion, new homes built, new multifamily residential, and by population, additional water capacity will be necessary. Lincoln currently receives all of its water from its municipal well field near the Platte River. It is projected that the well field will be insufficient to service Lincoln’s growth for 25 years. We have the gift of time to plan. A secondary water source is vital to support the growth that is projected for Lincoln in the years to come as our population exceeds 300,000 people.
The Chamber worked with our state delegation during the 2022 Legislative Session to pass LB1014, which appropriated $20 million in federal funds to study Lincoln’s needs for a secondary water source. We thank Lincoln Senators Anna Wishart and Eliot Bostar for their efforts to usher this important funding request through the legislative process.
In July, Todd Wiltgen, Public Policy Specialist with the Lincoln Chamber, was appointed to serve on Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird’s Water Source Advisory Council. That means the business community will have a voice in defining what the city’s water resource needs are, how best to plan for them and importantly – how new infrastructure will be funded. It is a transformational project for Lincoln.
Lincoln has always created a quality of life and vibrant economy that offers a compelling opportunity for business and residents. Our greatest past successes happened when the business community, education sector and local government collaborated to form a big vision and marshal the resources to achieve it. We begin this work in the spirit of collaboration and optimistic view for our shared future.