An advisory board wants to reach a set of economic development goals in Douglas County by the year 2020.
Douglas County needs to keep attracting new companies and nurture home-grown firms to maintain a steady job growth rate and strengthen the area's economic development, businesswoman Shirley Martin-Smith told the Rotary Club on Monday.
Martin-Smith, who heads ADIA Personnel Services, is a former Lawrence mayor and co-chair of the Horizon 2020 economic development advisory board.
The board was created to help achieve the goals of Horizon 2020's economic development plan. Horizon 2020 is the area's long-range strategic planning document.
Lawrence has already attracted companies such as NCS, an information services company that could someday employ 750 at its processing center, and Astor Universal, a metallic effects producer that has a target future work force of 200 jobs, Martin-Smith said.
"Many companies have contributed to the area's positive growth," she said. "We're fortunate to have a lot of home-grown companies."
The guiding principal of the economic development plan is to "not be complacent," she said.
The plan's strategies include nurturing public-private partnerships, encouraging the development of entrepreneurial ventures, selective recruiting of companies and boosting the numbers of visitors and tourism, Martin-Smith said.
The county needs to create new jobs -- 20,000 by the year 2020 -- to maintain employee-household ratios and counteract the forces that are shaping Lawrence into a bedroom community for Kansas City and Topeka. Last month there were 42,600 workers employed in Douglas County.
The plan's goals also include increasing the number of jobs with wages sufficient to support an average family, Martin-Smith said.
To achieve the goals the advisory board created seven task forces, she said. Their jobs include:
- Seeking capital availability to fund new ventures.
- Creating an entrepreneur-development group for an alliance among entrepreneurs.
- Developing incentives to attract new companies and encourage growth in existing businesses.
Martin-Smith said her task force -- communications and marketing -- is working to spread the word about the economic development goals with a countywide awareness program.
She encouraged Rotary members to pass along the names and phones numbers of prospects. The best prospects, Martin-Smith said, are privately owned companies of approximately 200 employees or fewer, with growth potential and connections to Kansas through birth, schooling or business.