First printed in the Lincoln Sentinel in May 2015
As I looked through the recent Class of 2015 section of the Lincoln Sentinel and read each graduate’s future plans, I couldn’t help but think about the amazing amount of opportunity that lies in front of each one of them. I don’t just mean the abstract opportunities of going out in the world and solving all its problems, I mean the opportunity that lies right smack dab in front of them here, on our Main Streets, in our businesses, and on our farms.
If I were a commencement speaker, or could somehow get the undivided attention of any current, recent, or future graduate’s attention for five minutes, my message to them would be this… Whether you believe it or not, there is a place for you here. There is opportunity for you here. There is a future for you here. Here in your hometown, here in this county. You are wanted here. You are needed here. You are important here. You can be, you will be, successful here.
For the graduate interested in opening her own daycare, for the four graduates interested in the engineering field, for the two interested in the culinary arts, for the seven interested in the health care industry, for the two interested in the military, for the four interested in the veterinary medicine field… there is opportunity for each one of you here in this county.
This opportunity is evident when considering each of these areas of interest with the needs in the county. Consider how all of our current daycare providers are operating at or very near capacity. Consider the scale and the type of projects being built by US Tower and Precision Electric. Consider the distance people will drive for a really good and quality meal at Fly Boy Brewery & Eats. Consider the number of people who will be retiring in the next few years and the growing complexity of the health care industry. Consider the number of hours I have spent the last few months trying to figure out how to recruit a veterinarian to our county. Halleluiah, there is opportunity for you here!
Still don’t believe me? Walk down Main Street and think about each business. You will see a whole bunch of people on the verge of retirement and every single one of those retirements is an opportunity, a GOOD opportunity.
If you’re skeptical or uninspired by this, chances are you’re focusing on the past and thinking about how so-and-so has been doing such-and-such for the last 25+ years. But think about it in terms of the future. What if YOU were in that job or business? How would YOU do things differently? What would YOU want it to be for the NEXT 25 years? That is where the opportunity lies.
Yes, taking advantage of the opportunities here will require hard work, creativity, self-motivation, and determination but that is required anywhere else in the world too. But there is one big difference between here and the rest of the world… here is your hometown. Here is where you have family, friends, and people who will step forward and give you the support you need. Here is where people will look not so much into the dollars and sense of your ideas but more into the spark in your eyes. Here you will be given a chance for no other reason than because we believe in you.
If you have any questions about opportunities in the county, 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