Archive for Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Charrette sets future goals for the LCDC staff

December 30, 2009

As the new year approaches, the staff of Leavenworth County Development Corporation is excited for what the future will bring now that they have a clearer understanding of their mission in the county.

After a day-long charrette, or retreat, where stakeholders in the LCDC and in the county met to discuss its expectations of the LCDC, they came up with the two main priorities to focus on in the future: marketing and business recruitment and retention and expansion of existing business in the county.

“It’s really great for staff to clearly understand what people’s different expectations are rather than guessing what their expectations are,” said Steve Jack, director of the LCDC.

For months there has been an internal discussion about what the goals and objectives were for the LCDC. While some LCDC members thought the organization should mainly focus on recruiting larger industrial jobs to the county, others thought they should focus on helping the existing business in the county, and still others thought it should focus on recruiting retail business to the county.

When it came time for all of the players to sit down and discuss what the focus of the LCDC should be a common thread started to form.

“What we really realized and the thing that everybody agreed on were jobs and capital investment,” Jack said. “ For us, a better target was the creation of and retention of jobs and capital investment instead of caring about where it comes from.”

Leading the discussion was Mary Birch, government relations coordinator for Lanthrop and Gage.

“She’s extremely skilled in this area,” Jack said. “She speaks from experience and can really bring everybody together. What she brought to the table were her own experiences that others could react to and that created an open environment where people were talking openly and honestly. It never deteriorated to acrimony.”

The discussion led to the realization that the LCDC staff was spending too much time doing things like putting on educational programs and traveling around the county to give 16 to 20 quarterly updates a year to the different stakeholders instead of focusing on recruiting new businesses.

Mike Yanez, Tonganoxie city administrator, who attended the charrette agreed.

“They are spreading themselves too thing trying to meet seven or eight main objectives when they should be focusing more on the top objectives,” Yanez, said. “People should cut them some slack on the lesser objectives.”

Now instead of spending a lot time giving the same reports to each entity in the county, the LCDC would set up a time for all stakeholders to come and listen to one report each quarter.

They also set up a way the stakeholders could measure the progress of the LCDC in accomplishing its primary objectives.

Overall Jack said he was pleased with the results of the charrette and he is eager to see what the results will be in the next year.

“We will be a more professional and a more confident LCDC,” Jack said. “ We are getting our legs under us. I think it’s going to be a really good positive year where we can point to some successes.”

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