The building season is just around the corner, but Lawrence Chamber of Commerce officials are fretting that Douglas County has few commercial sites available for potential developers.
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. distribution center 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, the chamber's 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.