Archive for Thursday, September 15, 2011

Leavenworth County economic activity growing

September 15, 2011

Summer has shone with good economic news for each of Leavenworth County’s four largest cities, development official Steve Jack said Thursday, with commercial development afoot in Leavenworth, Lansing, Basehor and Tonganoxie.

Jack, executive director of the Leavenworth County Development Corporation, said at an LCDC board meeting Thursday in Leavenworth that two events in the northeast part of the county Aug. 31 highlighted a number of recent encouraging developments for the county.

That morning, Twin Oaks Retirement Community broke ground on a multi-million-dollar addition that includes an 80-room skilled nursing center. And in the afternoon, officials at the Eisenhower Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s new Central Plains Consolidated Patient Account Center in Leavenworth had a ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts.

More exciting than that ceremony, Jack said, was that the CPAC had begun filling jobs more quickly than expected, already hiring 289 of its eventual 425 employees. By the end of the year, all those employees — and about $20 million worth of new payroll — likely will be in place, Jack said.

Joining those two developments is a possible new $8 to $14 million assisted living center that another group is considering building in Lansing, Jack said. With a new retail development being constructed along U.S. Highway 24-40 in Basehor and a new O’Reilly Auto Parts store off the same highway in Tonganoxie, exciting things were happening throughout the county, he said.

“For a town like Tonganoxie to have a major retail establishment like O’Reilly’s collecting sales tax is a pretty big thing,” Jack said.

Jack said the Basehor area had the potential for additional assisted-living development, as well, based on a recent study.

“It’s a growing market, obviously, for us baby boomers,” Jack said of assisted-living centers.

In a rundown of new business prospects, Jack noted some possible new developments for Tonganoxie, as well. He said LCDC in the last month had submitted the city of Tonganoxie’s undeveloped industrial park as a candidate for two different groups looking to open manufacturing facilities.

Tonganoxie is also a candidate for a more modest prospect, he said: a bioscience business that uses pigs for research (the pigs would be kept indoors). The pigs would likely outnumber the employees, of which there would be only a handful, he said. But the city’s candidate location, a building in the Urban Hess Business Park, has a strong chance to land the project, he said.

“Sometimes our product doesn’t fit the needs of the clients,” Jack said. “This one is a slam dunk. This is the perfect facility for it.”

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