by Wendy Birdsall, President, Lincoln Chamner of Commerce - 402.436.2350
The Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development won four awards at last week’s International Economic Development Council Annual Meeting. The Partnership was recognized by the group as having the best business retention and expansion program of peer cites with a population between 200,000 and 500,000. The council also recognized Lincoln as having the best promotional brochure of any organization of the same size. Additionally, the Partnership won two 2nd Place awards for marketing materials and programs.
Our business retention and expansion program is multifaceted in that we spend a great deal of time being in front of our local businesses, working on ways to help them grow and expand their business. This is the top priority of our organization and one in which we take a great deal of pride. There is an occasional misconception that our economic development efforts are spent more externally. However, this just isn’t true. We believe that the greatest opportunity for job growth occurs through businesses already in Lincoln and that communities that don’t take care of their existing business have less chances of adding new business.
I am very proud that a program in which we spend the most effort is recognized as the best in the U.S. Our staff should be commended for these accomplishments, but it really points to a larger story.
Nearly 10 years ago, a leading national consultant declared that Lincoln’s economic development program was at a crossroads. Now a decade later, we are being recognized as one of the leaders in the nation. This hasn’t been done by chance or good fortune. Most of the praise is due to the hard work and dedication of our staff, as well as, all of our partners at the City of Lincoln, the State of Nebraska, Lincoln Electric System, and Black Hills Energy.
Third-party validation shows that we are doing the right things in Lincoln. Only a year ago, our Chamber was recognized as second best in the U.S. by the largest association of Chamber executives.
I am also pleased to report that Jason Ball, our Director of Business Development earned the distinction of Certified Economic Developer (CEcD). Jason is the second staff person to receive a professional certification this year. Jaime Henning, Director of Events and Corporate Relations, received her Certified Chamber Executive designation earlier in 2012.
These certification processes are excruciating both for the professional development course work required and the testing process. In the case of the CEcD test, less than half of the candidates pass the exam on their first attempt.
We are one of the few Chambers in the nation with two Certified Chamber Executives on staff, as I was privileged to have earned my CCE designation nearly a decade ago. Jason’s Certified Economic Developer’s status makes him only the 11th active CEcD in Nebraska and again, we are one of the few organizations in the nation with two on staff as our Vice President for Economic Development, Jason Smith received the distinction in 2004.
The Chamber’s mission is to improve the lives of Lincoln residents by providing increased economic opportunity and can only be accomplished together. Networking opportunities, business advocacy, and creating economic viability are critical to our success. We encourage you to become a member and help us achieve these goals for Lincoln. For more information, please contact Paul 436-2350.
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