First printed in the Lincoln Sentinel in November, 2014
There is a joke among the many economic development and community development directors out there about their title and job description. The joke is something like this: “What is your title? Executive Director. And what is your job description? Herd cats all day.”
Although this is meant as a fun joke, there is a bit of truth in it. I’ve learned the most successful economic development directors are the ones who aren’t trying to achieve their own vision but to help the community achieve its vision. Since there are many people that make up a community, getting everybody to agree on a common vision and then getting them to work together often looks and feels like the chaotic task of herding cats all day.
The good news for Lincoln County is that we now have a common vision as defined and prioritized at the Countywide Strategic Planning Session a few weeks ago. We want improved housing options, we want better jobs, we want our kids to be able to make a good life here, we want a veterinarian, we want new businesses and a better business environment, we want more people to visit the county to spend money in our businesses, and we want more cooperation and pride across the entire county.
The next step though is to work together on this vision. We all know action speaks louder than words. WE must act. I say WE because this is a grand vision (it would be a pretty lame vision if it wasn’t grand) and it’s going to take all of us combining our brain power to come up with the plan that is going to work. The most successful economic development doesn’t start with the economy, it starts with the community.
So my job as director is to ‘herd’ everyone back together into individual task forces to focus on each piece of this vision. Below is a schedule for the first meetings for each of these task forces. The first meeting is intended to be very open with a facilitator that can provide a broad perspective on the topic but also help us begin to focus on a plan. The long-term responsibility and time commitment for each task force will be determined as we go along. The schedule for the first meetings are:
- Improving housing in the county – November 20, 7pm, LCEDF office
- Recruiting industry to the county – December 2, 7pm, LCEDF office
- Joint meeting between ‘Retention and attraction of the younger generation’ and ‘Developing and supporting entrepreneurship in the county’ – December 9, 7pm, location TBD
- Developing the travel and tourism industry to the county – December 10, 7pm, LCEDF office
- Recruit a veterinarian to Lincoln County – January 21, 2015, 7pm, LCEDF office
- Improve cooperation and coordination across the county – January 27, 2015, 7pm, LCEDF office
The reason for the joint meeting between ‘retaining our younger generation’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ task forces is because these two topics are so intertwined it’s hard to focus on one without also discussing the other. Ultimately though, these task forces will be separated so that the challenge and plan of action doesn’t become too overwhelming for any one group.
I know all of you have ideas, GOOD ideas too, because I’ve talked to you in the café, on the sidewalk, in a meeting or somewhere else. Now is the time to bring those ideas forward. NOW is the time.
If you would like to be on a task force and help develop our action plan, please feel free to stop by the LCEDF office in the county courthouse basement at 216 E. Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln, give me a call at 785-524-8954, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation