Close the Gap: Mobility Freedom event recap


On Wednesday September 12  65 employers, non-profit organizations and community members came to The Venue at the Highlander for Close the Gap: Connecting Talent through mobility freedom, an event organized by Heartland 2050 and Verdis Group. Representatives from the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA), Verdis Group, the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC)and the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce shared presentations about the successful efforts to provide a range of solutions for employees to have choice of how they get to and from work.

Mike Helgerson of MAPA shared about the Close the Gap Plan and the land use challenges that make it difficult to connect employees to their place of employment.

Daniel Lawse from Verdis Group got the crowd thinking when he asked about how we design transportation systems and what lies ahead for mobility and accessibility. Daniel reminded us that we are talking about designing for people, not vehicles.

Melanie Stewart shared the success and obstacles of the TravelSmart program at UNMC. Melanie presented the savings to the organization and what proactive steps you can take as an employer to ease employee hesitations.

Stephen Osberg, the first ever Director of Transportation Development at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce gave an overview of Prosper 2.0 and how transportation investments fit into the people, place and prosperity goals of the Chamber of Commerce.



The audience had many questions for our panelists. Questions on topics such as the role emerging technology like electric bikes or autonomous vehicles, how cycling can be seen as a more feasible option for commuting and what are the first steps a company that is thinking of engaging their employees on this issue can take.


After the Q & A session participants engaged in round table discussions and considered what would compel them to look into increasing mobility freedom at their company and what information most resonated with them that they will take from the day.

At the end, Daniel Lawse reminded the group of the action steps that they can  take:
1. Ask your talent
-Distribute a transportation and parking survey
-Collect qualitative data through employee interviews and focus groups

2. Easy First Steps
-Join Metro Rideshare and Metro Transit’s Commuter Pass Program
-Partner with Heartland B Cycle
-Encourage vanpooling
-Share maps of bike parking and routes

Thank you to all that attended and to the Peter Kiewit Foundation and Verdis Group for their support.

For more information and data, please read and share the Connecting Talent infographic and report.

To see a video of the event, please visit our Facebook page.