Archive for Thursday, April 21, 2011

Leavenworth County group finds top 2011 goals elusive as first quarter comes to end

April 21, 2011

With one quarter down in 2011, the Leavenworth County Development Corporation is making progress on many of its annual goals, but its two biggest remain to be met.

LCDC’s two major purposes are to attract new businesses and to create or keep jobs, executive director Steve Jack said Thursday at the monthly LCDC board meeting at Leavenworth City Hall. And it has not yet notched any tallies in either of those categories in 2011, he said, though it is meeting its goals in several more incremental areas necessary for drawing businesses and jobs.

For instance, by the end of March, LCDC had generated 15 new leads for prospective businesses and had submitted location proposals to eight of those interested groups, putting it on track to meet its targets in those areas.

In its Program of Work, a goal-setting document, LCDC aims to attract at least one new business to Leavenworth County and to facilitate the addition or retention of at least 100 jobs in the county in 2011. It met both of those marks in 2010, when it helped attract the Central Bag Company to Leavenworth and helped businesses create or retain a combined 103 jobs.

Another facility at the center of LCDC recruitment efforts, the new Consolidated Patient Account Center at the Eisenhower Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Leavenworth, is set to begin hiring the first of its planned 400 employees, Jack said. He met recently with officials for the account center, he said.

The center is hiring for 45 jobs now, with plans to have 200 employees by October and the full 400 by March 2012.

Because the account center is a government employer rather than a private company, Jack said, those jobs are not just a target — they’re a requirement.

“He said, ‘That’s not a goal. That’s my job,’ “ Jack said of one of the officials.

Also at the LCDC board meeting:

• LCDC economic development coordinator Cecilia Harry said she was attempting to measure something new during her regular visits to businesses around the county: How many of those businesses’ employees actually live in Leavenworth County.

“We talk a lot about, you know, ‘400 jobs are coming to the community,’ “ Harry said, “but how many are actually residents?”

She said that data was important because LCDC aimed to attract to the county not just jobs, but residents, as well.

Harry interviewed 18 employers with 678 workers in the first quarter of the year, and about 64 percent of those employees lived in the county, according to her report from the business visits.

• Jack gave kudos to State Rep. Melanie Meier (D-Leavenworth) and State Sen. Tom Holland (D-Baldwin City) for making it easier for Leavenworth County businesses to qualify for a Kansas state tax credit.

As part of attempts to cut the state budget to account for a revenue shortage, the Kansas Legislature planned to increase the requirements for the state’s High-Performance Incentive Program for businesses in counties in metropolitan areas, Jack said. The program provides tax credits to businesses that provide high-paying jobs and make capital investments.

Meier and Holland, Jack said, were successful in moving Leavenworth County from the list of metro-area counties to the list of more rural counties for the purposes of the program, meaning businesses need only make at least $50,000 in investments to qualify for the credit, rather than $1 million.

“We really appreciate the support of both the representative and the state senator,” Jack said.

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