Archive for Saturday, April 22, 2006

Lawrence retail campaign expanding

April 22, 2006


The Chamber of Commerce campaign to get Lawrence residents to shop in Lawrence will expand this spring.

The "Start Here" campaign - which used advertisements featuring community leaders and business owners exhorting readers and viewers to do their shopping at home - started in 2004.

The expanded effort will include a City Hall proclamation declaring a "Start Here" week in Lawrence, and businesses across the city will be issued decals to advertise their participation.

"The campaign itself, I think, is good," said Susan Henderson, who is heading the effort for the chamber. "This is an effort to get more business behind it, so it's not just a chamber-driven effort."

Maria Martin, the owner of Southwest & More in downtown Lawrence, has participated in the campaign since the beginning.

"I think it started to make people aware of the benefits of keeping dollars in the community," she said.

Local businesses can use the help. Between 2002 and 2005, sales tax collections in Lawrence rose from $10.79 million to $11.84 million - a rise of 9.8 percent. Statewide, sales tax collections increased by nearly twice that amount.

Over the last year, Curtis Clinkinbeard, regional director for the Kansas University Small Business Development Center, has been surveying businesses in Lawrence, Eudora, Baldwin and elsewhere in Douglas County, asking questions about wage ranges and the need for work force training programs. It also asks officials to rate the relative value of businesses' resources, from the chamber to area accountants.

The report should be available sometime this spring.

"At this point in time, we're kind of done," Clinkinbeard said, "but we're still reviewing the work with the chamber to figure out the lessons to draw from it."

Participants in the "Start Here" campaign don't have numbers to tell if their efforts have been successful. But they know they're battling retail areas in Topeka, Kansas City and Johnson County for dollars.

"I think lots of businesses feel they're not getting customers from Lawrence," Martin said. "I can speak for myself as a downtown business owner that I have a lot of customers from Lawrence, but I could be reaching more."

That's true even though downtown Lawrence is a big draw for out-of-town customers. It may not, however, draw as much business from Lawrence residents.

"There's no question that downtown is an attraction, there's no question that people come here specifically to go downtown," Henderson said. "The problem is getting our neighbors out there."

Shopping in Lawrence, Henderson and Martin said, benefits the entire community - even when shopping at chain stores. Local employees get paid, and tax dollars go to local projects.

"The tax dollars is what does it - they've paid for improvements to the parks and bicycle trails," Martin said. "A lot of this comes from people who spend their money in the community. We just think it needs to be said a little more often."


Richard Heckler 12 years, 1 month ago

New Economic Development Person

This woman has her hands full. If she sticks around long enough and is able to draw the proper mix of light industrial that typically brings higher paying salaries Lawrence,Kansas should make sure this person receives a bonus. The effect will be be felt throughout Lawrence and our property taxes may indeed begin to drop.

Excellent paying jobs should top the list above all else then be concerned about new retail.

Lawrence is going to push a retail campaign which in fact will depend to some degree how effective the new economic development person will be allowed to perform. Bringing in high paying employers that so many of our 12,000-15,000 commuters have sought out will be a major factor. It is no secret that those who work elsewhere also shop elsewhere. It's likely the larger department stores, not Wal-Mart, that shoppers seek for selection and price. Every big name store in Lawrence is downsized because the retail market is not here.

Downtown Lawrence is a major attraction to outside residents and tourists. We certainly shop downtown and Cottin's first.

My east coast in-laws love downtown Lawrence so much so our brother in law started thinking of relocating his very successful Mr. Bones BBQ to Lawrence from Florida. The menu is awesome and it offers many vegetarian selections. Between my brother in law and his wife they can cook up some fabulous selections.

lunacydetector 12 years, 1 month ago

merrill pushes light industrial because it can take 20-30 years to fill up, thus preventing anything new from coming along. just look at this ECO2 sham they have been pushing for over 4 years, and now they want to back door us into footing the bill from our property taxes - $20 Million, and the Chamber claims 17% of their inquiries were looking for some big sites - BUT they won't name any names or who we lost out on - because i suspicion there aren't any names. the environmentalists get their tax free subsidized "green" belt around lawrence, and the rest is spent on industrial ground that will sit empty for years and years...just look at east hills business park with its empty buildings and vacant land - and i mustn't forget the virginal farmland.

the environmentalists want some payola and the chamber hopes it will be enough for the greenies to cave on the SLT. it ain't gonna happen even if they push through this backdoor tax hike.

let's say Hyundai wants to build a new plant that will employ 5,000 people paying an average salary of $50,000 a year and they REALLY like lawrence. if you can get past the no growthers objections, i would think the city of lawrence would abide to anything this company would want to do and where they reasonably want to locate.

go to any other town in america and there is available industrial ground, and most respective communities will bend over backwards to be accomodating.

the REAL industrial areas are in China and India. didn't farmland coop find it less expensive to manufacture overseas than in east lawrence? it didn't matter because they went belly-up, but i think anyone can get the picture. -

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