LCDC discusses better marketing
Leavenworth County Development Corp. members and staff in their monthly meeting July 10 examined how better to market the county to potential developers and site location specialists.
In continuing big-picture talks about LCDC's general direction after the adoption of a new strategic plan for the group in March, LCDC marketing chair Sheila Lucas had those present contemplate two questions: "How would you position LCDC today, three years from now and five years down the road?" and "What is your number one priority to market LCDC?"
LCDC president Tony Kramer noted a large percentage of the marketing committee's budget - which was estimated at $60,000 for 2009 - is spent on print advertisements in area commercial journals and various trade publications.
"Are there better tactics we can use to utilize those funds," Kramer questioned.
Lucas suggested taking a more proactive approach and spending money to actually go out and identify certain businesses "that would match up with our (Leavenworth County's) current strengths."
She likened pursuing business leads to dating.
"You go pick the girl up; you don't wait for her to come to you," Lucas said, also noting several niches that could suit the county well, such as bioscience-related industries, large defense contractors like those on post at Fort Leavenworth and local cottage industries.
Lucas also suggested revamping LCDC's Web site to better show what the organization has to offer.
Leavenworth Mayor Lisa Weakley said cities' economic development directors like those in Leavenworth and Lansing could help ease the workload on the volunteer members of LCDC, and outgoing Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Charlie Gregor added that LCDC needed to coordinate with other economic development organizations in the county to "augment their staff."
Bill Petrie, a Leavenworth banker and former LCDC executive director, said it was "virtually impossible" for volunteer marketing committee members to conduct day-to-day marketing functions like meeting with developers and pursuing leads from organizations like the Kansas City Area Development Council or the Kansas Department of Commerce.
He said it would be imperative to improve infrastructure in the county in the next three to five years and to inventory where different utilities lay.
"We can't sell out of an empty wagon," Petrie quipped.
Asked for his comments, LCDC executive director Steve Jack acknowledged the group's tendency to react instead of taking a more proactive stance in some circumstances, and he, too, said staff could use help matching utilities that are in place in the county with what various industries require "so we (LCDC staff) could just pull something off the shelf and say : 'OK, here's what we have.'"
Jack alluded to the importance of the work a utilities task force - an arm of LCDC's infrastructure committee - would undertake in the coming months in identifying all water, sewer and electric lines throughout the county.
In a prospect report for the last week in May and the month of June, Jack listed eight business leads with which staff has been working: three call centers; one back office; two wind turbine brokers; a microbrewer; and a request from the Boy Scouts of America for 5,000 acres of available, tax-free land.
Jack also noted that interviews were under way with five applicants for LCDC's economic development coordinator position, following Christy Isaacs' departure from the post earlier this year.
In reports from allied organizations:
¢ Leavenworth County Port Authority chairman Terry Andrews said utility relocation and road improvements had been completed in the Urban Hess Business Park in Tonganoxie, allowing LCDC staff to begin marketing the remaining two lots in the industrial complex.
¢ Gregor announced his last day as Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce executive vice president would be Wednesday, July 16 after around 25 years on the job.
"I don't know of a more progressive organization or a better group of people to work with," Gregor said of the LCDC staff and board members, adding he would stay on as an adviser to the chamber in the upcoming months.
¢ John Kauffman, the newly hired Leavenworth Water Department manager, introduced himself to LCDC members. He is a former water resources and water rights consultant from Colorado and was an elected official to the utility board in a suburb of Denver.
In municipal reports:
¢ County Commissioner J.C. Tellefson said the Leavenworth County Air and Business Park committee met Wednesday, July 9 to review responses to a request for qualifications for vendors for a justification study that would determine the need for a regional airport and adjoining industrial park somewhere in the county.
Tellefson also noted a "tight budget" for 2009, adding, "I don't know if we'll be able to hold the mill (levy)."
He said commissioners had recently instituted a hiring freeze and would look at scaling back road projects in an effort to keep any increase in property taxes minimal.
¢ Basehor City Administrator Carl Slaugh informed LCDC members that final construction drawings for the city's new wastewater treatment plant were under review with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
He said the yearlong construction project should begin in the next "couple of months."
¢ Tonganoxie City Administrator Mike Yanez reported between 250 and 450 swimmers each day at the new Tonganoxie Water Park after a week and a half in operation.
In regard to the city's upcoming 2009 budget, Yanez said, "Right now, we're pretty much on a static budget," despite adding a few new employees to the city staff.
¢ Weakley announced that assistant city manager Robyn Stewart would be stepping down from her post Friday, July 11.
¢ Lansing City Administrator Mike Smith said the city council was to begin budget discussions.
"(The budget) is going to be very tight this year," he warned.