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Archive for Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Economic development plan aims toward growth

September 18, 2002

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The city's new economic development director unveiled a six-month "action plan" Tuesday to the Lawrence City Commission.

"These are really the priorities for us to get our system in place," said Lynn Parman, vice president of economic development for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce since July. The chamber contracts with the city and county to do economic development work on their behalf.

Parman's plan includes surveying existing businesses, updating the packet the city sends out to new businesses and creating networks of similar businesses to cultivate their industries.

Helping businesses stay and grow in Lawrence "is our first priority," Parman said.

She said the chamber purchased a new software system to help her survey local companies about their sales, work force and business environment. It should help her know which companies are at risk to leave Lawrence and which are poised for growth.

"I think it's going to allow us to better anticipate how to serve the need of our existing companies," Parman said.

A new packet to attract new businesses is necessary, she said. Thousands of cities compete for hundreds of businesses every year.

"It's a very cutthroat situation," Parman said. "Our business relocation packet hasn't been updated for over 15 years, and I think we need to update the look and feel so we can compete for those high-tech businesses."

Potential new businesses and existing business expansions could create as many as 1,800 new jobs, Parman said, although she acknowledged it was unlikely all those projects will come to fruition.

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