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What about Bob

First printed in the Lincoln Sentinel in October, 2014

Have you ever seen the movie “What About Bob?” If you have, then you’re bound to be wondering how the heck that movie could relate to economic development. It’s a silly movie with the plot being (according to Wikipedia) “Bob Wiley (played by Bill Murray) is a good-natured man who suffers from multiple phobias. He feels good about the results of an initial session with Dr. Leo Marvin (played by Richard Dreyfuss), a New York psychiatrist with a huge ego, but is immediately left on his own with a copy of Leo’s new book, Baby Steps, when the doctor goes on vacation to Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. Unable to cope, Bob follows Leo to his vacation home.”

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but whenever I feel overwhelmed by a problem or uncertain about the future, I think of this fictitious Baby Steps book written by a fictitious psychiatrist in a Hollywood movie. Call me crazy but I think this non-existent book is genius. The book is basically about breaking down a seemingly impossible challenge into little manageable steps.

I first utilized Baby Steps when I went to India twelve years ago. The idea of me, a very shy farm girl, going off to India, by myself, for 3+ months, not knowing anybody, or where I would be living, or what I would be doing, or how I would survive to tell the tale, seemed absolutely impossible. Impossible! But I remembered Baby Steps. I didn’t know how to live in India, but I did know how to get on a plane. So I started with that.

I feel much the same about economic development. I know I’m the executive director, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel overwhelmed by the challenge that lays ahead of us for developing Lincoln County’s economy. Some days it just seems impossible. But even though I know I don’t have all the answers, I do know it is going to take input from everybody to help figure it out. So we’re starting with that.

The Countywide Strategic Planning Session held last week was one baby step towards the future. We had a great turnout of people with very interesting and positive ideas resulting in a list of priorities including recruiting a veterinarian, retaining our younger generations, improving housing, developing travel and tourism, supporting entrepreneurs, recruiting industry, and improving cooperation across the county. Our next baby step will be to create a task force for each priority and develop a plan. Each task force will determine the next step and that result will lead to the next step and so on and so on. Before we know it, we will be tackling our toughest challenges and further developing our economy.

My baby steps in India resulted in an amazing experience that shaped every part of who I am today. I expect the baby steps Lincoln County took last week with the Countywide Strategic Planning session will shape who we are for many tomorrows.

If you would like to be on a task force and help shape these next steps, please feel free to stop by the 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

Kelly Larson
Executive Director
Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation

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