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Lincoln seems poised to continue strong growth

Lincoln seems poised to continue strong growth


Steelworkers work on the fourth story of the Olsson expansion to its headquarters in the West Haymarket in April. The company is one of several in Lincoln that is expanding.

Mayor Chris Beutler, who leaves office next week, told a crowd of more than 600 people Tuesday morning that now that retirement is looming, he and his wife got a puppy.

Beutler, speaking at the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development breakfast at the Cornhusker Marriott, said that during a walk over the weekend, the puppy found a $20 bill, and he joked that his retirement plan is that "I'm just taking that damn dog for a lot of walks."

Lincoln, however, can't base its future on getting lucky and finding money.

So far, it has "punched above its weight" when it comes to economic development, Gov. Pete Ricketts said, but that didn't happen by accident.

The community has worked together to make things happen and Lincoln has turned out better for it, said Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Birdsall.

If the Partnership for Economic Development's 2019 Business Conditions & Indicators Report is any indication, the momentum that Lincoln has built up over the past decade or so is poised to continue.

The report, which surveyed 78 businesses in the city of varying sizes, found that 52 of them, or 70%, have future plans to expand. And 23 of those businesses reported they plan to spend a combined $155 million over the next three years and add more than 2,800 jobs.

Additionally, 83% of the companies reported that their sales are increasing while the remaining 17% of companies said sales are stable.

However, not all the news from the report was positive. While 68% of businesses said overall labor quality was above average or better, 76% said workforce availability is average or lower.

And 60% of businesses said they expect legislative changes within the next five years that will negatively affect their business, and 30% said they expect tariffs to negatively affect them.

Tuesday's breakfast also included a featured speaker, Joe Gerstandt of Omaha.

Gerstandt, who is a nationally known expert on diversity and inclusion, told the business leaders in attendance that those terms do not necessarily mean what they think they mean.

Diversity is simply difference, and it can range from skin color to ethnicity to religion to what position a person holds in the workplace.

Companies that want diversity must also practice inclusion, which by his definition is the process of treating individuals as insiders in the organization while also allowing them to retain and feel comfortable expressing their unique qualities.

"Inclusion is activist," Gerstandt said. "It's not about what you say, it's about what you do."

He said that for Lincoln to ensure it remains the great place it is now in 10 years, it needs to have an ongoing conversation about diversity and inclusion.

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On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.


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Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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