Task forces established this summer by Mayor Don Wesely today issued their reports on technology, air service and entrepreneurial growth in the City of Lincoln. Wesely formed the task forces through the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, a joint-public-private venture with the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.
"Gallupís decision to look outside of Lincoln for expansion prompted us to look at the key issues involved, to see what we need to do as a community to position our city for future economic development in the 21st century," Mayor Wesely said. "I appreciate the hard work of all the task force members, who are some of the top business and academic leaders in our city."
Serving as chair to oversee the work of the task forces was Ed Paquette, Executive Director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Alumni Association. The task forces will become a key part of a rapid response team to help ensure that Lincoln can take advantage of economic growth opportunities for established, emerging and new businesses. Mayor Wesely said technology, capital and transportation are key to our efforts, and the intention is that we can take a unified approach in these areas to attract new business and encourage expansion of existing businesses.
"Lincoln has tremendous assets among the cooperative partnership of the business community, University and City. We need to trumpet the terrific climate of opportunity that these partnerships offer us in marketing our community to potential businesses," Wesely said.
Following are summaries of the task force reports:
This task force concluded that while Lincolnís infrastructure is competitive, the community must be more responsive and have a greater vision for our future in the new economy of the Information Age. Lincoln has at times not taken advantage of emerging opportunities and stands to lose ground because we lack focus on the many key elements necessary for a vigorous technological future. Among other things, the group recommends creating a technology council to advise the mayor and the chamber and to create a culture of advocacy and support for technology businesses.
This task force agreed that Lincoln is at a disadvantage because many local business travelers -- key customers for airlines considering the Lincoln market -- feel they can get more destinations and flight times and better prices at Omahaís Eppley Field. Still, three-quarters of our local business people do fly from Lincoln, and more than half are willing to pay more to do it. This group recommends further exploration of six key questions about the Lincoln air market. These include further study of the Lincoln business travelerís needs, marketing opportunities and long-term strategy.
This task force was comprised of members of the board of directors of the Nebraska Enterprise Forum (NEF). The two-year-old volunteer group brings together entrepreneurs with useful business services, capital, potential joint-venture partners, mentors and other resources. NEF is an active group that has been a catalyst for expanding venture capital opportunities and investments in start-up and high-growth companies. Its board, working with the State Department of Economic Development, last fall launched an effort to establish a sustainable framework for venture capital development. The general conclusion is that this initiative be encouraged and fostered as the basis for future entrepreneurial growth in the Lincoln community.