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Wendy Birdsall named Woman of the Year

Chamber President, Wendy Birdsall, was named Woman of the Year at the Lincoln Journal Star’s 2016 Inspire Awards. This prestigious award recognizes women leaders and the impact they are making in our vibrant city. Birdsall led efforts to bring the Pinnacle Bank Arena to Lincoln, rebuild the Haymarket and reinvigorate the city’s business and job market. Birdsall’s high profile role shines a light on the powerful and inspiring women working to improve the community that we share. Birdsall was also named on the list of the 30 most influential women in Lincoln.

Silicon Prairie: Tech startups bring innovation to the Midwest

If you were tuned into CBS This Morning this past year, you saw someplace very familiar. Lincoln is a major player in the new innovation frontier called the Silicon Prairie and is moving into the national spotlight. “We could be just another startup on the west coast, or we could be a part of this movement in the Midwest,” said Bulu Box founder Paul Jarrett. The story focused on all aspects of the startup community that make Lincoln an ideal place to start and scale a business: a supportive university system, incubators and coworking spaces and a unified attitude of innovation with entrepreneurs. Since the report, the words Silicon Prairie have been on everyone’s lips, including National Public Radio (NPR) and Bloomberg News.


Celebrate Business

In its 20th year, this annual event celebrates the valuable contributions businesses make to our community and recognizes both business and individual lifetime achievements. The Chamber honored the following businesses and individuals in 2016. BURNHAM YATES CITIZENSHIP AWARD Angie Muhleisen ROGER T. LARSON COMMUNITY BUILDER AWARD Doug Emery CORNERSTONE AWARD Nelnet ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT AWARD Quantified Ag GREEN BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD Bosch SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD Honest Abe’s MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR AWARD Benchmark Biolabs & Antelope Valley Bios TOURISM DEVELOPMENT AWARD Pink Gorilla Events

“Across the Great Plains, even in winter, the new cash crop is high tech. Tech companies are bringing thousands of people to the Midwest in what is being called America’s new innovation frontier.” –Mark Strassmann, journalist and CBS News correspondent

Finding common ground and expanding possibilities Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Birdsall said, “I knew when we flew into the airport at Shanghai that I had traveled to a place unlike anything I had experienced, nothing in the U.S. compares.” She said U.S. airport hubs are small by comparison and demonstrates the enormity of the possibility of the Chinese market for Nebraska and Lincoln. Birdsall was pleased to see amidst all the bigness of China, that business partnerships still come down to developing relationships. Once the Chinese business people recognize what Nebraska has to offer, Nebraska “nice” kicks in with our ability to strike common ground around some significant business agreements.

Shanghai Railway Station

With China as the fourth largest and fastest growing trade market for Nebraska, Birdsall said it is clear we need to visit, in person, to develop ongoing relationships and to expand possibilities beyond the ag sector.

Top 3 The 20 Cities


for Young Entrepreneurs –nerdwallet

The Lincoln Chamber is 1,700 members strong. The majority of our membership is made up of small businesses. A slice of business life

Health care is a major driver for the LincolnPhysicians economy and Directory Lincoln Lincoln Specialty Care connects the medical Your Success Starts Here! People refer to the Lincoln community to you. Physicians Directory every day to find the right doctor and Lincoln Specialty the right care.



Care and the Lincoln



Every year,community we print and medical distribute overto10,000 collaborate

promote Lincoln’s copies of this pictorial


wide array of for directory. Search

medical resources to Greater Nebraska for the health care services and surrounding available in the Lincoln states. The Lincoln community. ad in the Physicians Your Directory is a full-color pictorial directory will reach the publication. Lincoln most relevant doctors and Specialty helped patients forCare your brand. to establish Lincoln as a preferred referral center. The online directory can be To advertise in the 2018 directory contact: found at Curtis Klein, Director of Healthcare Services doctors, listed by specialty,

Lincoln Specialty Care | P.O. Box 83006 | Lincoln, NE 68501 | 402.436.2350

Lincoln Specialty Care | 402.436-2371 | Lincoln Specialty Care produces a Visit to view the directory online and for up-to-date biannual hotel discounts brochure Lincoln healthcare newsfor articles and hospital innovations. our partners to share with families staying in Lincoln, while a loved one is receiving care or services in an acute care facility. This collaborative effort is a credit to hotel property partners in the Lincoln community. SPECIAL DISCOUNTED HOTELS for Bryan Health Patients & Families | 2017 Rates

The larger than life scissors goes “snip” followed by applause and another Lincoln business location completes its ribbon cutting. Last year, close to 100 ribbon cuttings signaled the completion of many major projects in Lincoln and the surrounding area. This exclusive benefit of membership, enables the Chamber to play a major role in promoting positive business achievements and investment in the community.

Lincoln named a top city for global trade by Global Trade Magazine

It’s hard to overstate the influential role the University of Nebraska (Go Huskers!) plays in every aspect of daily Lincoln life. Not Nebraska Innovation Campus only does it infuse the city with an international vibrancy, it provides a steady stream of highly educated young people along with research facilities supporting private business. The city also has the benefits of low cost of living and doing business.

The Guardians of Freedom Airshow had more than 200,000 people looking to the sky over two days in May. Under the clouds, parachutes dove into the air, gliders rode the winds and the F-22 Raptors’ ferocious roar could be heard for miles. The crowd was amazed by the graceful aerobatic maneuvers of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Their signature six-jet diamond formation, in concert with the fast-paced, high-performance maneuvers of its two solo pilots was not to be missed. Thanks to the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, the Nebraska National Guard and the Lincoln Airport Authority, this unique event provided a valuable connection between the community and the military. The spectacular sights were visible for miles across the Lincoln skyline. Visit for up-to-date Lincoln healthcare news articles and hospital innovations.

Putting your membership dollars to work: The Chamber’s Business Advocacy Program at a glance

Get plugged in...


Active on the local, state and federal levels, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce successfully guided several key legislative policies to approval at City Hall and in the State Capitol – directly enhancing our member’s bottom lines. The highlights include expanding NE internships, enhancing tax code and incentive provisions for start-up and high-impact innovation; and pushing for workplace and workforce policies that attract and help retain the next generation of talent for our state and communities. The Chamber also played a vital role in securing new state funding for the East Beltway. By far, the largest policy event for 2016 was the annual Federal Legislative Summit.  It featured all five of Nebraska’s Congressional delegation and included Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, as the keynote speaker.

Top-notch building for top school

The University of Nebraska College of Business Administration, ranked in the top 50 business schools in the country this year, now has a new building on city campus. The final beam was covered in signatures while guests awed at the new structure that includes a grand staircase–no doubt intended to take business students straight to the top. University of Nebraska College of Business Administration


Business retention and expansion

Business Conditions & Indicators Report

Hudl Global Headquarters

2016 company visits In collaboration with state and local partners, the Partnership staff completed the Business Retention and Expansion Survey. The team completed 108 surveys of primary companies in the Lincoln market. The Business Conditions and Indicators report was released at the Partnership’s Annual Economic Development Breakfast and is available in print as well as online at

Topping out at 10

Hudl doesn’t feel as much like a startup anymore with its new building and the plan to employ nearly 700, bringing people to Lincoln from across the country. A sea of Hudl shirts and business suits stood still to watch the final orange beam of the new global Hudl headquarters be lifted into place before taking the party to the Railyard for its 10th anniversary.

LINCOLN IS CALLING Stop playing the field. There is no place like Nebraska!

Recruitment trips to Columbus, Ohio and Chicago, enabled Partnership representatives to engage with former Lincolnites. They connected with 5,000+ former Lincoln residents at UNL Alumni Football Friday tailgates and watch parties to spread the message that “Lincoln is calling.”

International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Excellence in Economic Development Awards

The Partnership is the recipient of a silver International Economic Development Council Award of Excellence in Economic Development for the First Impressions publication. The brochure was designed to convey the positive attributes of operating in the Lincoln business environment.

Rise of the Rest

AOL co-founder Steve Case turned his attention to the Silicon Prairie on his “Rise of the Rest” tour. Lincoln and Omaha were selected as stops on his latest tour, where he invested a total of $500,000 into regional startups. Case began the “Rise of the Rest” tour in 2014 with the intention of directing attention and supporting cities that are outside of the California and New York startup hotbeds. This tour was designed to bring a financial boost to five outstanding startups as well as to energize the entrepreneurial ecosystem and bring exposure to the city’s most innovative members. A pitch competition was held in each city with a grand prize of $100,000. In total, Case has invested over $2 million in 19 cities.

Rise of the Rest announcement

Hundreds of cities were nominated, but only five stops were chosen: Denver, Salt Lake/Provo, Albuquerque, Phoenix and our own Lincoln/Omaha. Hosting a stop on Case’s tour signifies that our city is a true player in the world of technology and innovation.

Hour of Code is a tremendous success.

More than 500 people of all ages learned the basics of coding through self-guided tutorials at the Hour of Code event held at Nebraska Innovation Campus during National Computer Science Week. There was also an interactive tech fair, which enabled families to get hands-on experience with robots and wearable technology. The one-hour introduction to computer science was designed to demystify “code” and show that anyone can learn the basics to become an innovator. The need for software developers and computer engineers is increasing while people who struggle with math are quick to shy away from coding. According to, there are more than 517,000 open computing jobs nationwide. And last year, only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce.

Two new websites complement Talent is the 2016 word of the year. Lincoln boasts an incredible low unemployment rate, but this leaves a challenge for growing companies looking to fill jobs. The Partnership has responded with, a new relocation tool to help attract candidates and encourage them to seize this time of great opportunity in Lincoln. As the Silicon Prairie continues to catch fire, strengthening the Lincoln startup community and making it stand out is becoming more important. is a new platform for Lincoln startups, by Lincoln startups. It is about keeping the current startup ecosystem flourishing by featuring programs, contacts and events in one place.

New Relocation Guide

See Lincoln in full color. In 2016, the Chamber published an insider’s guide to Lincoln’s community, jobs, school, leisure, transportation and more. Open it up and you might even find some things about Lincoln you didn’t know yourself.

Lincoln was named a “Playful City” for the THIRD year in a row. Playful City USA is a national recognition program that honors communities that are taking bold steps to ensure that all children have easy access to balanced and active play in their communities. —• KaBOOM! (2014, 2015 & 2016)



Lincoln Young Professional Group's YP Week 2016 showcased inspiring ideas

In 2016, YP Week organizers had their sights set high when they selected Ugandan refugee and founder of the Global Soap Project, Derreck Kayongo, as the keynote speaker. Kayongo spoke to an eager crowd at the Rococo Theatre. He walked through ideating and creating a global operation to recycle hotel soaps and redistribute them to under-served communities around the world. Kayongo’s attitude and example of problem solving made his talk relatable and valuable for young professionals and entrepreneurs. The engaging Q&A segment proved Kayongo invigorated those in the audience and shook the tree of social responsibility.

Engage Entertain Educate “Together, we will celebrate the power of music, startups and creativity to shape the identity of our city. At the same time, we’ll celebrate how our city cultivates creative energy.” –Mayor Chris Beutler

YP Week keynote speaker Derreck Kayongo

YP Week’s other activities included a luncheon with city legislative candidates, professional development sessions and a cocktail hour with midwestern hospitality-industry icon Greg Marcus. A business success story was also highlighted as Amanda Valentine spoke about her rise as a fashion designer.

Henning named in “Lincoln’s Top Young Professional” list by the Lincoln Journal Star

Jaime Henning, director of corporate relations for the Chamber, was named to this prestigious list of Lincoln’s young professionals for the creation of YP Week. YP Week is a week-long series of events to promote discovery, adventure and “conversations that matter” to young professionals in Lincoln.


On a packed night at Duffy’s Bar on O Street, a local band named Universe Contest played the final show of the Lincoln Calling music festival, putting the cap on Lincoln’s celebration of arts, music, creators, business and innovation. A collaboration of six community organizations created a series of events, called LNK DNA. Lincoln celebrated the vibrant startup community, young professionals, entrepreneurs, arts and culture. LNK DNA was a week-long invitation into the house that Lincoln built; a blend of programming combining the Lincoln Calling music festival, Startup Week, Lincoln Young Professional Group’s YP Week, Make Lincoln, Black Box Arts and Lincoln Fit Week.


Women’s 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament

Women’s NORCECA Volleyball Tournament Final

Lincoln caught an Olympic sneak preview when the Road to Rio stopped at Pinnacle Bank Arena for the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) Women’s Qualifying Volleyball Tournament. In January, nothing warmed the heart of the country more than seeing the American women’s team take home the gold to advance to Rio, where they snagged a bronze medal finish.

World Tenpin Youth Bowling Championships

World Tenpin Youth Bowling Championships

Following competitions in Hong Kong and Bangkok in 2012 and 2014, respectively, the United States hosted the World Tenpin Youth Bowling Championships this year in Lincoln. Sun Valley Lanes, Lincoln Bowling Association and Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau worked together to host this international competition that welcomed the best male and female youth bowlers from 37 countries to Lincoln.   

More than 82% of all proposals submitted by the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau were targeted at regional or national events— a five year high.

USARS welcomes athletes to new venue

USA Roller Sports National Championships

After hosting 27 National Championships at Pershing Center since 1962, USA Roller Sports ushered in a new era with the 2016 USA Roller Sports National Championships taking place at the new Speedway Village in southwest Lincoln. For the first time ever, a fourth week of competition was added, with the introduction of roller derby and slalom. The competition drew 3,000 athletes to Lincoln over a one-month period. Athletes competing in the 2016 roller sports nationals found warm messages from friends and family on a Welcome Wall, which greeted guests as they walked into the fieldhouse.

Lodging tax

Lonely Planet names Lincoln as a top travel destination for 2017

Lonely Planet, the world’s largest publisher of travel guidebooks, has named Lincoln to its list of 10 top destinations to see in 2017. Lincoln ranked No. 3 on the publisher’s “Best in the U.S.” list. Our proud city makes its mark with bike trails, breweries, nightlife and a hip music scene under an enormous sky. Keep in touch with the Chamber LCOC.COM LincolnChamber LincolnChamber LincolnNEChamber

The Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau announced record-setting months of lodging tax collections in the months of July and September. July lodging tax receipts of just over $408,000 and September receipts of nearly $438,000 far exceeded previous records. “Overall, we’ve put in a lot of work to market Lincoln,” said CVB executive director and vice president Jeff Maul. “It’s been a real partnership between the city, the county and all of our facilities and hotels. There is a vibe about Lincoln right now, and each time I talk with visitors in Lincoln, they tell me what a wonderful impression our city has left upon them.”

July lodging tax receipts of just over $408,000 and September receipts of nearly $438,000 far exceeded previous records by up to 27%.

2 01 6 L i n col n C h a m b e r o f Co mmerce E xec utive Co mm it tee Terry Heimes, Chairman Nelnet

Patrick Spethman, Treasurer US Bank

Tom Smith, Chair-elect D.A. Davidson

William Cintani         Mapes Industries, Incorporated

Kim Russel, Vice Chair Bryan Health

Tim Stonehocker       Ameritas Life Insurance Corp.

Angie Muhleisen, Past Chair Union Bank & Trust Company

2 0 1 6 L i n co l n C h a m b e r o f C o m m e rce B o a rd o f D i re c to r s Marci Gartner Ameritas Life Insurance Corp.

Piyush Srivastav NAQS

Collin Caneva AMPT Now

Dave Gall NEBCO, Incorporated

Tom Henning Assurity Life Insurance Company

Brad Strittmatter Olsson Associates

Jeff Sylvester Black Hills Energy

Steve Ford LinPepCo

Kim Moore CHI Health St. Elizabeth

John Laflin Pinnacle Bank

Trent Sidders Cline Williams Wright Johnson & Oldfather, LLP

Eric Dinger Powderhook

Barry Lockard Cornhusker Bank

Dan Vokoun Sampson Construction Co.

Jay Wilkinson Firespring

Tom Lorenz SMG/Pinnacle Bank Arena/Pinewood Bowl

Noah Greenwald INSPRO Insurance

Christie Hinrichs Tabitha Health Care Services

Kevin Wailes LES

Chancellor Ronnie Green University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Andy Hunzeker Lincoln Industries

Bob Balfany US Bank

Ava Thomas Lincoln Journal Star

Jenni Christiansen Wells Fargo Bank

Dr. Steve Joel Lincoln Public Schools





1128 LINCOLN MALL, SUITE 100 | P.O. BOX 83006 | LINCOLN, NE 68508 | 402.436.2350

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce Annual Report  

Chamber activities are chronicled in this annual review.

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