Archive for Thursday, February 16, 2006

Teamwork stressed at countywide summit

February 16, 2006

Cooperation is the key to success.

That was the message delivered by about 50 officials Thursday morning who gathered in Leavenworth for an economic development summit.

The summit, sponsored by Leavenworth County and the Leavenworth County Port Authority, was part of preparations for a focus on the county that Ingram's business magazine will publish next month.

Dean Oroke, county commission chairman, said he was pleased Ingram's agreed to feature Leavenworth County. In past magazines, the county has been paired with Wyandotte County.

"I think this is a very large step for Leavenworth County and the residents and citizens of the county to make a presentation to the general public about what we here in the county are about," Oroke said.

Joe Sweeney, editor and publisher of Ingram's, said he anticipated a 40-page spread on Leavenworth County.

As summit participants discussed challenges that might impede the county's progress, some common themes developed. Among the top impediments, participants said, is infrastructure, including links to interstate highways, air transportation and sewage treatment plants.

And participants said expanding the tax base in the county is imperative. That would not only provide additional dollars to governments to finance infrastructure improvements but also provide additional jobs for citizens.

But expanding the tax base means attracting business.

"I think one of Leavenworth County's biggest hurdles is being recognized as a metropolitan Kansas City county," said Chris Donnelly of First State Bank and Trust, which has offices in Tonganoxie and Basehor. "They think we're 300 miles away."

The future of the county pivots on a united leadership, according to Debbie Breuer of Community National Bank, which also has offices in Tonganoxie and Basehor.

"We have the power in this room, and we need to continue with that and not work in a single community," she said. "We need to achieve these things together."

And Mike Smith, Lansing city administrator, agreed.

"We're still way behind as far as us working together as a team," he said. "There are too many turf battles. What is good for Basehor, I think, is good for Leavenworth County. If we don't get our act together and start doing things as a team and promoting each other, things will pass us by."

Lynn McClure, executive director of Leavenworth County Development Corporation, said a recent trip to Washington, D.C., by local officials in an attempt to secure federal funding for transportation projects in the county underscored how much could be accomplished through cooperation.

"Everyone is starting to grasp and get their arms around the concept that unless we're together, we're going to fall apart," he said.

In December, Leavenworth County commissioners voted to pay $5,000 to Ingram's to be included in the magazine. Tonganoxie City Council members agreed to pay $2,376. According to Mary Ann Mogle, city clerk in Basehor, no vote has been taken by council members on what to spend. She said she expects it to be discussed at the council's next meeting.

Lansing and Leavenworth also are participating.

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