Mayor Don Wesely, Lancaster County Board Chair Bob Workman, and Lincoln Electric System (LES) Administrator Terry Bundy announced today they have designated a group of public employees to serve as an economic development team to coordinate the public aspect of economic development activities with the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development (LPED) and others involved in job creation and retention.
The team will include employees from the City-County Planning Department; the City's Public Works and Utilities, Urban Development, and Building and Safety Departments; LES; and Lancaster County. Managing the team will be a new economic development coordinator, whose position will be funded equally through a partnership of the City, County and LES. The team and new coordinator will work directly with LPED as the primary economic development agency to supplement LPED's efforts.
"It is very clear from the recent announced layoffs that the nationwide economic downturn has now hit Nebraska and Lincoln," said Mayor Wesely. "We need to be doing more in economic development to work with companies to retain jobs and to recruit companies to bring new jobs to town. This team and the new coordinator will work directly with all public and private entities involved in economic growth to increase the City's overall efforts."
The City has not had an economic development coordinator since 1996 when LPED was formed as a public-private venture to handle economic development activities for the City. One gap that exists which the coordinator will fill is that LPED has never had the authority to speak for the City, County or LES. The coordinator and team will have that ability on a daily basis as needed.
"The City, County and LES are working well together on economic development requests, but we need to help to coordinate the increasing number of economic development projects on which we are working," Wesely said. "The coordinator will work for all three public entities on economic development projects to help ensure as much coordination as possible, in the most cost efficient manner possible. As an employee of all three public entities, the economic development coordinator will have the ability to speak and act for the City, County and LES. The creation of this position will help expedite projects."
Mayor Wesely said he and the Mayor's Technology Council have also been working closely with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to establish a technology/venture capital position. The individual in that position would be supervised by the University and would also work with LPED and other business entities to transfer technology into new business ventures in the private sector.
Planning continues for the Economic Summit being hosted by Mayor Wesely and Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey. The purpose of the Summit is to assess the current economic downturn hitting both cities and discuss how the two communities can work together and with the State to address economic development issues.