Archive for Wednesday, February 7, 2001


February 7, 2001


Bill Sepic, chamber president, said the county only has one large parcel of land left near East Hills Business Park where the American Eagle Outfitters Inc. warehouse was planned.

"If someone were to purchase those 80 acres of ground, then we would have nothing," he said.

Several smaller lots, 25 to 30 acres, are available in various business parks in the county, but the sites aren't suitable for larger warehouse or manufacturing companies looking at the Lawrence area, said Debi Moore, senior vice president of economic development.

That's why Eco2, a chamber task force designated to look for green and commercial spaces, plans to conduct a work force study to get a clear picture of the county's existing labor pool. The group met Tuesday at the chamber's office to discuss the project.

The study's results would be used to determine the type of businesses to recruit to the area and the infrastructure necessary to attract them.

To help pay for the study, Sepic said he plans later this month to lobby Lawrence and Douglas County for money. He also may ask the cities of Baldwin, Eudora and Lecompton to contribute $500 or $1,000. The study is estimated to cost $25,000 to $35,000.

Moore said the county needs more commercial land, and Eco2 probably will look at several sites for potential business or industrial parks.

"It's not something that happens overnight," she said. "That's why the committee is taking its time, but there definitely is a need. We've gotten several calls from businesses looking for 50 to 100 acres."

Moore said it took 10 years to develop the East Hills Business Park.

Lawrence is in an ideal location to attract businesses, she said, because of its proximity to Interstates 70 and 35 and the Kansas City area, the nation's largest railhub after Chicago.

"Some bigger companies are tired of the hustle and bustle of big cities and want to relocate to a smaller community," Moore said.

Last month, Expansion Management magazine ranked Lawrence 43rd among America's 50 Hottest Cities for business relocation and expansion, based partly on its location and work force. The international business magazine polled more than 75 site selection consultants for their choices of the best cities for expanding or relocating manufacturing companies. Kansas City was ranked 16.

-- Staff writer Joy Ludwig can be reached at 832-7144.

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