Former LAD director dies of cancer-related illness
Tom Mills knows firsthand how important Gary Carlson was to Leavenworth County small businesses.
In 1997, Carlson, the director of Leavenworth Area Development (LAD), helped Mills receive a tax abatement for the expansion of his business, Central State Emblems, in Basehor.
The abatement stretches over 10 years and gives the business relief for 50 percent of the expansion's construction costs.
"We were able to take our business from 16 employees to 38 employees," Mills said.
"He's going to be very missed by small businesses in Leavenworth County," he added.
Carlson, 56, died at his Lansing home Sunday, Sept. 1.
Memorial services took place Wednesday, Sept. 4, at the Davis Funeral Chapel in Leavenworth.
Carlson, who had cancer, resigned from LAD in July because of health problems.
Carlson had served as LAD director since 1995.
He was instrumental in aiding the county's small businesses as well as promoting and encouraging economic development.
"His philosophy was it's better to have 100 businesses with 10 employees than 10 businesses with 100 employees," said Susan Guy, a Basehor resident and LAD member who worked with Carlson over the years.
"He was so easy to work with and so knowledgeable," she added.
Carlson also helped area businesses learn about available programs such as the Enterprise Zone, a sales tax exemption for businesses in cities with populations under 2,500 people.
The program gave commercial and industrial businesses exemptions for items like building materials, Guy said.
Although business was his forte, Carlson also helped area residents by initiating programs such as neighborhood revitalization in cities like Basehor and Tonganoxie.
Neighborhood revitalization gives tax abatements to property owners that remodel.
But for all his accomplishments, Guy said one thing that stood out most about Carlson was his ability to work with and listen to anyone who was interested in economic development.
"He did so much for the county and he will be missed. It will be difficult to fill his shoes," she added.