Mayor Chris Beutler said Lincoln has become a world class city that can compete with "anyone, anytime, anywhere." And he said the community's experience with Pinnacle Bank Arena and the West Haymarket has given it a "Blueprint for Progress" that will guide the City to more success. The Mayor's comments were part of his State of the City Address delivered this morning at a breakfast event organized by Leadership Lincoln.
"At the end of day, a Blueprint for Progress is only as good as the community that steps forward and accepts responsibility for creating change," Beutler said. "Over the last decade we have rediscovered that we have limitless possibilities when we come together and focus our talent and energy on a vision for the future. That's why the Pinnacle Bank Arena represents so much more to me than simply an entertainment venue. It is a shining beacon of what we can accomplish when leadership, passion and purpose converge. It gave us the confidence to take on new and bigger challenges in our quest to become a world class city. It taught us that when we work together, there are no obstacles too big to overcome and no boundaries to our collective imagination"
Beutler said the Blueprint for Progress includes four keys:
Mayor Beutler said projects like the Scheels expansion, the 9th and "O" development and the City Centre project demonstrate the importance and wise use of the City's economic development tools. "The message from these and dozens of other private public projects is simple," he said. "It's the private sector risk takers and dreamers who make growth happen. When we have the public tools to support them, Lincoln wins."
21st century education
"We must continue to partner with LPS, UNL, SCC, Wesleyan and all of the other educational institutions that maintain Lincoln's key growth advantage - knowledge," Beutler said. He cited the City's collaboration with LPS on the Community Learning Centers; the City's work to provide all students with high-speed, wireless Internet service; UNL's Innovation Campus, which builds the City's reputation as a hub of the Silicon Prairie; and the need to provide all residents with lifelong learning opportunities through a modern library system.
The City's invested $700,000 from the Fast Forward Fund to create the Lincoln Broadband Project, which has already partnered with eight private telecommunications providers to improve access to next generation broadband and wireless infrastructure. As a result, Beutler said, 10 new companies have opened offices in Lincoln; 400 new jobs have been created with over $20 million in new annual salaries; and $250 million has been invested in private broadband infrastructure over the past two years. "Bold ideas like the Lincoln Broadband Project return exponential benefits to our citizens and inspire them to build more, dream bigger, and invest in their fellow citizens," he said.
World class infrastructure
The City has increased spending on streets by 58 percent since 2010, but Beutler said more needs to be done. "Several large economic development projects are slowed because we do not have the City funds needed to improve Rokeby Road, slowing development that will create good paying construction jobs and expand our tax base," he said. "The lesson is clear: we miss critical opportunities when we don't adequately fund our roads budget." The Mayor said he is confident the new Lincoln Citizens' Transportation Coalition, a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, will identify strategies to advance the City's roads program over the next 20 years.
"The last decade has been a time of historic change in Lincoln," Mayor Beutler said. "The Blueprint for Progress has been the common thread to our successes, and we will continue to use it to drive the four key ideas that are building our future: economic investment, a 21st century education, innovation and world class infrastructure."
The breakfast also included the presentation of the Leadership Lincoln Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Marilyn Moore, who was an LPS teacher and administrator for 40 years. The new Moore Middle School is named in her honor. Moore also served as President of the Bryan College of Health Sciences and has been involved with many local organizations, including the Lincoln Children's Museum, the Food Bank of Lincoln and the Lied Center Advisory Board.
Leadership Lincoln Executive Director Mick Hale also spoke on the State of Leadership Lincoln. The organization has four programs - the Executive Series, the Fellows Program, Youth Leadership Lincoln and the Academy for Local Leadership (Project ALL).
The text of the State of the City Address will be available on the City website at lincoln.ne.gov. The speech will also be aired on LNKTV City (Allo channel 2, Spectrum channel 1300 and Kinetic channel 5) and available through YouTube.