Comstock's magazine 0419 - April 2019 - Page 27

What should I know about Lincoln? A lot of people will talk about Lincoln as having been the fastest-growing [small] city in America. It went from 10,000 to 40,000 people in the span of 10 years [2000- 2010]. When a community experiences that amount of growth at that pace, it’s impossible to keep up. It’s really difficult to build the systems within the city organi- zation that are necessary to accommodate a community that’s growing that quickly. It’s also difficult to develop the infrastruc- ture that’s needed. Over the past five years, Lincoln has been growing at a very healthy and stable rate of about 1.6 percent annu- ally. We are about to experience another housing boom; there are several hundred units ready to be constructed in the Twelve Bridges area. What’s great about Lincoln — it’s a historic downtown with a traditional grid street pattern, but it’s also a suburban community that’s growing. The city will accommodate a build-out population of approximately 100,000-120,000 people [by 2050]. But the general plan that’s guiding that growth is very mindful of preserv- ing the traditional and historic downtown and making that the city center. The res- idential development as it’s occurring is being done with both a mind toward con- necting to downtown, but also preserving the magnificent open space out here. The other part of Lincoln that’s growing and changing is the workforce. This tradition- ally has been a community where people lived and slept, and then drove someplace else to work. Our job growth is increasing significantly. Some of the projects we’ve been working on in terms of economic development have yielded over 1,000 new jobs over the past four or so years. What kinds of jobs and in what sectors? In the industrial-employment sector, there are a number of projects we’ve complet- ed over the last few years. One is a carpet recycling company that chose to locate in Lincoln, called Circular Polymers. This company, which started with about five When new owners come in [to downtown], they come in with new investment, new ideas about what to do with the properties and, quite frankly, a lot of motivation.” employees when they came to Lincoln in 2016, is now about 30 employees, and they are poised for significant growth. Another company called TransPak is a global crating, packing, logistics compa- ny, primarily to the technology industry — they are based in Silicon Valley. They acquired a company called Cases Plus that was formed in Lincoln in the early ’90s. … TransPak bought that company and oper- ates [it] here, but they are now also doing their traditional crating and packaging work here in Lincoln. They’ve expand- ed almost threefold from 25,000 square feet to about 75,000 square feet and went from about 20 employees to 55 employ- ees. These are production/processing jobs. Another company called GC Products has an operation in Lincoln — they make con- struction products for custom interiors for mostly commercial applications. They had another business they started in Reno, ex- pecting they would relocate their Lincoln operation to Reno, because the conven- tional wisdom at the time was Nevada was lower cost, lower regulation, a better place to operate. After five years in business in Nevada, they realized it was not what they had expected it to be, and they relocated their Reno operation to California. They took about 25,000 square feet of industrial space and expanded their workforce from about 20 to about 45. What about Lincoln attracted these companies? A big part of their decision to remain or expand here was the ability to retain their workforce and grow their workforce. One For an extended interview with Shawn Tillman, visit April 2019 | 27