Archive for Thursday, November 15, 2007

LCDC activity picks up

Agency at work on Urban Hess, Carlson business parks

November 15, 2007

With one property recently sold, another being looked at and improvements for an existing business park in southern Leavenworth County pending, the Leavenworth County Development Corporation has been busy working to bring new businesses to the area.

LCDC members discussed these and other projects in a monthly meeting Thursday, Nov. 8.

Leavenworth County Port Authority member J.C. Tibbetts reported that six bids for construction on the 25.33-acre Urban Hess Business Center at the intersection of County Road 5 and Laming Road in Tonganoxie have been received and will soon be reviewed.

LCPA members will award a construction contract to improve sewer lines and repair Commercial Drive, the street running through the business center, to one of those bidders during their monthly meeting Nov. 28, LCDC Economic Development Coordinator Christy Isaacs said Tuesday.

Space in the Urban Hess center will be suited for light industrial companies, she said, but added, "We don't have any specific prospects (for Urban Hess) at this time."

Improvements to the business center, which is owned by the LCPA, will be paid for out of the LCPA annual budget.

Also on Thursday, LCDC Executive Director Steve Jack announced that Kelly Williams Properties closed on a 2.5-acre lot in Leavenworth's Gary Carlson Business Park on Oct. 31. The purchaser is set to build three buildings for small, light manufacturers on the site, Jack said, with groundbreaking to begin in December.

"I can't say how many jobs this will create," Jack said, "but I can say that, with the addition of these buildings, we will have some employment growth."

Jack also reported on a current business prospect, nicknamed Project Oil, which could possibly bring a distribution center to lot 9 in the Carlson Business Park as well.

One lead that never actually turned into a prospect over the last month, Jack said, was a chemical and agricultural operation looking for a 60,000-square-foot building.

He said that particular company is a good example of a business looking for a large, existing building that LCDC cannot accommodate.

During Thursday's meeting Jack also discussed a proposal to purchase software that, he said, would help track prospects, improve communication with LCDC committees and offer comparable data to potential developers.

The software, offered by Blue Ocean Consulting, is the same software used by many economic development agencies in the Kansas City area and around the Midwest, Jack said, explaining that it is tailored for LCDC's specific needs.

The up-front cost for the software is $3,500 with a $2,800 charge for updating and maintaining the program and allowing access to the Blue Ocean server.

Without a quorum, LCDC members could not take action on the proposal, but, if accepted, the expenditure would be drawn from carryover funds in LCDC's 2006 budget.

In other reports:

¢ Leavenworth County Comm-issioner J.C. Tellefson told LCDC members that a job description for a county administrator would be finalized Tuesday.

¢ Dustin Smith, a planner with the city of Basehor, said, with the U.S. Highway 24-40 Corridor Study nearing completion, the Basehor City Council recently passed a resolution requesting five locations for stoplights along 24-40 from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

¢ Lansing Mayor Kenneth Bernard introduced the city's new economic development director Nolan Sunderman and told LCDC members that work on Main Street is complete. Bernard said a ribbon cutting celebrating the project's completion is scheduled for the Wednesday after Thanksgiving at the First National Bank in Lansing.

¢ Leavenworth Planning and Community Development Director Jerry Gies said roadwork that will facilitate access to Fort Leavenworth's back entrance is progressing at the intersection of 20th Street and Metropolitan Avenue.

Gies also reported that the city's economic development director position is now vacant after former director Mark Werthmann took a job with the federal government.

¢ Charlie Gregor, executive vice president of the Leavenworth-Lansing Chamber of Commerce, reported back from a recent meeting with Blue Cross Blue Shield where, he said, executives from all across Kansas met and passed enabling legislation that could provide medical insurance to uninsured workers.

Gregor said that, with 10.5 percent of its workforce uninsured, Kansas still has the sixth lowest uninsured percentage in the nation, adding, "We don't have a crisis, but we do have a situation that needs attention."

¢ Greg Kaaz, chairman of the regional airpark committee, said the committee met with Federal Aviation Administration representatives and developed a "laundry list" of what needs to happen for an airport and adjoining industrial park to come to Leavenworth County.

"Pretty much, it's a long road to go down," Kaaz said, estimating that it would be seven or eight years before any dirt is turned for the project.

The next step for the committee is a needs analysis, Kaaz said, where a consultant would assess the need for an airport in the area.

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