Lincoln’s competitive advantage is its quality of life, according to Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. Speaking to members of the Chamber of Commerce Wednesday noon, the Mayor said she will concentrate on building that quality along with economic development.
Beginning with the story of her own arrival in Lincoln, motivated by the traffic jams and high cost of living of her native California, the Mayor said she and her husband Scott, a Lincoln native, are happy they moved here.
Gaylor Baird said many communities are measured purely by their Economic statistics. That’s a mistake, she said, because the Gross Domestic Product doesn’t measure or count as valuable factors such as the number of people who stay at home to take care of their children, growing one’s own food, planting trees, maintaining social ties, and other non-transactional “activities that we intrinsically value.”
The Mayor said Lincoln needs to build both the Economic and Social value of the City. She cited two different Gallup studies. In one, she said, Lincoln ranked 26th economically in the nation.
“Social well being, or the extent to which people experience social relationships, was relatively low, with Lincoln ranked 154 out of 186 cities.”
Three initiatives, she said, will seek to bolster Lincoln’s social capital. One will be aimed at helping the entire population enjoy the good life and benefits of the rapidly expanding economy. The second will harden the City’s infrastructure against climate change. The third will seek to help the entire City and all residents thrive, creating growth.
Unlike the situation of she and her husband, in which we returned to Lincoln because he was aware of the quality of life, “we need new people who don’t have a family connection to move here because they see our high quality of life.”