Archive for Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Development-ready sites and creative funding priority to build Shawnee economy

November 3, 2010

Shawnee must offer development-ready sites and consider creative funding sources in its quest to increase economic development, a panel of community and business leaders agreed last week.

About 45 people gathered Oct. 27 for an economic development summit organized by the city and the chamber of commerce.

Their goal was to refine and prioritize the city’s economic development strategies.

That’s a task that requires being competitive, chamber President Linda Leeper said.

“In a market where there are over 50 other communities in our region that are also looking to expand their business base, we will need to pursue public/private partnerships and look at new revenue sources for economic growth,” Leeper said.

Leeper said the city also must continue focusing on existing long-term objectives, such as growing its property- and sales-tax base, attracting enterprises that create diverse job opportunities and promoting business development while maintaining the existing business base. She said those opportunities are limited, however, by a lack of prime buildings for lease or sale and large development sites that are “shovel-ready.”

Summit attendees identified specific parts of the city to put public/private partnerships and new revenue sources to work, city manager Carol Gonzales said. Those include the areas around Kansas 7 and 43rd Street, Interstate 435 and Johnson Drive and Silverheel Street south of Shawnee Mission Parkway.

Lyle Butler, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce president, facilitated the summit and added perspective to current economic challenges, Leeper said.

Gonzales said the chamber and the city organize such leadership summits at least every two years. This year, they focused specifically on economic development.

Tim Cowden, senior vice president of business development for the Kansas City Area Development Council, also addressed the group, focusing on development trends and the need for cities to provide “product” to attract companies.

Last week’s summit took place at the Overland Park Convention Center.

Gonzales said the chamber and the city organize such leadership summits at least every two years. This year, they focused specifically on economic development.

Invitees included members of the chamber board of directors, the city council and the Economic Development Council executive committee.

Absent, however, was Jim Martin, the committee’s executive director.

Martin resigned near the end of September after serving the organization nearly 10 years, Leeper said. Neither Leeper nor Gonzales would discuss details about his departure.

The chamber is looking for a new person to fill the position and working closely with the city to do so, Leeper said.

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