Archive for Friday, April 6, 2001

Economic development board pledges spirit of cooperation

April 6, 2001


The Lawrence-Douglas County Economic Development Board met Thursday with promises of new cooperation between business and "smart-growth" advocates.

As if to prove that point, the meeting was co-chaired by Douglas County Commissioner Charles Jones, a smart-growth proponent, and former Lawrence mayor Shirley Martin-Smith, a business owner.

"We're starting from scratch," Jones said.

Thursday's meeting was the first by the board since fall 2000.

"A lot has happened in the community since we last met," Martin-Smith said.

Two groups focusing on economic development have sprung up during that period: The Mayor's Tax Abatement Task Force, sponsored by the city; and ECO2, a Lawrence Chamber of Commerce-sponsored committee that is looking at acquiring land for both green space and industrial development around Lawrence.

Those boards also have tried to draw from a broad representation.

"I think we've learned that we have more in common than we think," said Jones, who also serves on ECO2.

One of the board's first tasks is to oversee revision of the economic development portion of Horizon 2020, the city-county long-range development plan.

"The economic-development element is the only part of Horizon 2020 that hasn't been revised yet," said Debi Moore, vice president of economic development for the chamber.

"The plan is seven years old. Times have changed, and they've changed more than we thought they would seven years ago."

As a starting point, Jones suggested the board compile data of where the community stands economically and share it with the other two boards.

"I think that will go a long way toward ensuring that all these groups are moving toward a common endpoint," he said. "To know where you're going, you need to know where you're at. I don't know if we know that."

The board meets next on May 17.

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