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Economic stats for 2015

First printed in the Lincoln Sentinel in December 31, 2015

With the end of another year comes another economic development ‘year-end review’ for the county. Last year I wrapped up the review with a quote from Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I firmly believe when you’re ready to work you’re ready for opportunity and the business owners and volunteers behind the stats below are excellent examples of just that.

So here are a few of this year’s stats:

  • At least 11 new businesses opened in the county this past year. This includes four new businesses in Sylvan Grove (Gypsy Creek Revival, Zensations Massage, The Loft at 101, and the Post Rock Dance Academy) and seven in Lincoln (Family Hair Flair 2, Ronnie’s Café, Elite Construction, Flower Power Emporium, Backstreet Bargains, Massage Therapy by Tori, and K-9 Design by Shay Errebo);
  • At least two successful and critically important businesses transitioning to new ownership including the former Lincoln Pharmacy into Patterson Health Mart at the very first of the year and Sunrise Café just in the past few weeks with expanded business hours;
  • At least two business expansions, both based in Sylvan Grove, including 181 Ag Supply opening a second location in Tescott and Mike Kratky growing his Pioneer Seed business with a new facility; and
  • At least three building renovations including the interiors of Family Hair Flair 2 and Stop & Shop and the ongoing upgrades at the Post Rock Motel that began in 2014 and has continued into this year.

Looking strictly at jobs data, our numbers have continued to improve in this area over the past year as well. Our unemployment rate for November dropped to 2.9% (a year ago it was 3.4%). As a comparison, Ottawa County’s rate is 3.3%, Ellsworth County’s is 3.1%, Russell County’s is 3.2%, and the statewide rate is 3.5%. Interestingly, we have the same unemployment rate as the urban hustle-and-bustle of Johnson County who is also sitting at 2.9%.

As for the Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation (LCEDF), we have had another successful year. Our revolving loan fund contributed $84,000 worth of financing to local businesses. Several of our strategic planning task forces have made great headway including:

  • Unveiling the new Live Lincoln County marketing campaign, with a comprehensive website and soon-to-be-installed signage, to increase travel and tourism in the county and provide readily accessible information to future residents and potential business owners;
  • Creating the Lincoln County Career Day to improve students’ outlook on their long-term opportunities here in the county in order to retain our youth and develop entrepreneurship;
  • Conducting a housing assessment for Sylvan Grove to make the community eligible to apply for a large housing grant. (We won’t know if the grant was funded for another month or two yet;
  • Continuing to actively search for that elusive veterinarian who is interested in opening a clinic in the county; and as always,
  • Assisting local business owners with their plans, some of which are already on my watch list for next year’s positive economic stats.

Just like last year, all of these stats are very encouraging. As I look towards the year ahead I think there will be even more people putting on their overalls and getting to work. Economic development can be a muddy work but like any kid knows, playing in the mud can be a lot of fun too.

If you have any questions about the stats above or would like to put on overalls of your own to make some opportunities happen, 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 [email protected].

Kelly Larson
Executive Director
Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation

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