Archive for Thursday, January 29, 2009

Businesses report increased sales

January 29, 2009

Despite tough economic conditions, business in Leavenworth County is expanding, and sales are increasing.

Representatives of the Leavenworth County Development Corp. attended the Jan. 22 Basehor City Council meeting to present 2008 and 2009 updates for Leavenworth County business development.

During the presentation, LCDC economic development coordinator Victoria Rowley updated council members on the corporation’s Business Retention and Expansion program.

“The primary reason for the program is to get out and meet with businesses and to determine their needs,” Rowley said.

LCDC met with 21 Leavenworth County businesses during the fourth quarter of 2008 to talk to employers about their workforce, markets served, growth and how they rate doing business in the county.

Out of the 21 businesses, 64 percent reported increased sales in 2008, Rowley said, and seven of those businesses expanded during the year with a total capital investment of $5,176,532. Eight of the companies plan to expand within the next year with a total of 334 new jobs expected in seven of those companies, Rowley said.

Employers reported, however, that they were having some trouble hiring and keeping employees.

“One of the major issues for businesses is workforce,” Rowley said. “It’s difficult finding people, recruiting people and retaining people.”

Rowley said 48 percent of companies reported experiencing recruitment problems when hiring new employees. The companies had an average turnover rate of 14 percent.

The businesses cited a stable economy, loyal customers and low business costs as benefits of doing business in Leavenworth County.

Some of the county’s business drawbacks, according to the companies, were its lack of building space, a lack of planning and zoning and poor housing markets.

LCDC President Chuck Peters told council members about some of the events LCDC had organized during 2008.

“We’ve done quite a bit of networking with both members and nonmembers,” Peters said. “We’ve made an effort through these events to bring the organization to the forefront.”

Included in these events was a casino night at Falcon Lakes, a business and industry banquet at the Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth and a golf tournament at Falcon Lakes, among others.

Executive Director Steve Jack said LCDC had also taken part in many leadership activities such as traveling to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Kansas congressional delegation and update them on the status of Leavenworth County.

“We met with Sens. (Sam) Brownback and (Pat) Roberts and talked about various county projects,” Jack said. “We also took this opportunity to thank them for their continuous support and to request funding on behalf of Basehor and Tonganoxie.”

Also on Thursday night, council members:

• Approved, 5-0, a request by USD 458 to waive certain fees and requirements for the proposed Wellness and Fitness Center. The district submitted a request to the Basehor Planning Department for an 8,000 square-foot center to be located between Basehor-Linwood High School and its football field. Superintendent Robert Albers later requested to have five fees and requirements reviewed. Council approved waiving a transportation excise tax and a $59,800 payment in lieu of construction for sidewalks. Council accepted a letter of commitment for construction of the sidewalks when the streets are reconstructed.

• Approved, 5-0, an interlocal agreement between Basehor and Sewer District 3 for the decommissioning of the Glenwood Estates Lagoon.

• Approved 5-0, a replat for lots 29-33 of the Pinehurst South Subdivision.

• Approved, 5-0, a request by the Planning Commission and JED Installation to extend a conditional use permit granted to JED Installation Partner Dennis Mertz to install landscaping and make improvements to the building located at 2722 N. 155th St. The conditional use permit will be extended by one year to meet the requirements laid out by the council in 2007.

• Tabled, 5-0, until the Feb. 2 meeting, a description of the procedures to be followed by the city and Benchmark Management for the Wolf Creek Junction street projects. Council members wanted more time to have City Attorney Patrick Reavey review the written description.

• Approved, 5-0, a payment request from Holland Corporation in the amount of $14,508.72 for the 2008 street maintenance project.

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