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Mayor's Office

2005 Media Releases


Date:
May 24, 2005
For More Information Contact:
Mark Bowen, Mayor’s Office, 441-7511


Lincoln Is the Land of Opportunity
by Mayor Coleen J. Seng
Lincoln Journal Star, Guest Column
April 28, 2005

Lincoln residents want their opinions heard. It is part of keeping the community’s trust. Leadership means listening to the community and bringing people together to accomplish common goals. Those who know me understand the importance I place on including and empowering residents to participate.

I meet regularly with Lincoln residents in their homes all over the city. I encouraged them to invite their neighbors so I could hear directly from the people. The common themes I heard resonate as strongly today as they have for decades. High quality of life, good jobs, desirable neighborhoods, strong schools, and a safe, clean, vibrant community. Together, we can do so much to achieve our dreams.

But lately, it seems bold ideas are met with cynicism and pessimism. For example, the critics met John Q. Hammons’ proposal to build a new hotel with suspicion and antagonism – until he did not submit a bid. Then, suddenly, they questioned why he changed his mind.

Some of this can be attributed to a very negative campaign season, which brings out the worst in those who insist on seeing the glass half-empty. Naysayers do not help find solutions. In my experience, it is not the Lincoln way of doing things.

I do not want suspicion or negative attitudes to turn investment away from Lincoln. I spoke to Mr. Hammons to encourage him to continue investing in Lincoln. He assured me he remains interested in Lincoln. He will look at alternative sites and continue exploring a possible public-private partnership on a new convention center.

I am optimistic about the future. When I meet with regional and national developers to sell them on Lincoln, it feels good to hear them say Lincoln’s strong reputation, high quality of life and opportunity for success attracted them. Lincoln makes good things happen. Together, we can make more happen if we see the glass as half full and act when opportunity knocks.

Just look around. Molex announced 150 new jobs this week. TAG-TMI added 175 jobs in the past two years. Talent+ has a proud new headquarters to house its growing workforce. Construction continues for a $60 million expansion at Westfield Shoppingtown Gateway. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has plans for a beautiful Quilt Center and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service’s $37 million expansion is nearly complete. Nebraska Wesleyan University and Union College both are growing. The Cornhusker/Marriott Hotel and Embassy Suites are remodeling. These are just a few of the bold ideas producing real economic development.

The Antelope Valley Project fixes a critical flooding problem. It also creates opportunity for new jobs and new investment in the core of the city. Lincoln must finish the new flood control channel to protect more than 800 homes and businesses from the danger of flooding. When the channel is complete, 50 acres of previously undevelopable land will be available for economic expansion. Federal funding sets the pace, so the City won’t bear the entire cost.

The eyesore at 48th and O streets shows new signs of life. I insisted that the second-busiest intersection in town had to change. Now the bids are open, and we know investors agree: 48th & O Street can once again be a busy retail area, rather than what it has become.

To encourage job growth, I advanced and the City Council approved a future 800-acre industrial and office park site for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development to market to expanding businesses that will add jobs. Located along Interstate 80 near Northwest 48th Street, the site meets the criteria outlined by the Angelou Report.

I am optimistic about Lincoln. I spend much of the day promoting Lincoln because we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to offer. Like any city, we have challenges, but we cannot doubt our ability to meet those challenges. Together, we must grab the challenge by the horns rather than worry about being gored.

The state wrestling tournament departed because it outgrew our facilities. It is no surprise that Pershing Center, at 50 years of age, is outdated. A new facility is needed. It will take the combined support of taxpayers and the private sector to make it succeed. Yes, there will be a cost. But it is not a cost we must face immediately, and we all realize that the cost of doing nothing is so much higher. Lincoln is a destination city for Nebraskans. Naysayers may nitpick the details, but the vision is appropriate for this growing Capital City. As a plan evolves, we will keep it affordable. But we cannot be afraid to plan. We cannot let circumstances plan our future. We will plan our future.

We must embrace opportunity. It helps to occasionally remind ourselves that others look at Lincoln as a place where the grass is greener. A positive attitude about our own capacity for success and unity is our greatest asset. Inclusive leadership takes time, but it builds trust. I unite people to participate. United we find solutions. The process will make Lincoln a stronger community.


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