After years enjoying a slow, steady drumbeat of population growth, economic expansion and employment additions, Lawrence leaders are finding themselves grappling with some unfamiliar feelings these days.
Companies no longer are pounding at the doors of commercial Realtors, angling for pieces of a tight supply of industrial or commercial properties expected to produce futures of steady production or robust sales.
New residents aren't signing purchase contracts for homes virtually sight unseen, back when builders would struggle to find enough lots for houses that likely would be sold by the time construction wrapped up.
And the times of accelerating plans for new schools, water lines, sewer systems and other infrastructure items to keep up with it all also seem to have waned a bit, all part of a skittish economy that is struggling to regain its footing.
But listen closely to those community leaders - the elected officials, business owners, organization bosses and others who have been around awhile - and they're not letting frustration with the way things are limit their vision of the way things should be.
Lawrence, after all, isn't Las Vegas, or Silicon Valley, or any of the other major population hubs hammered in recent months by major economic swings, such as from collapsing home sales, massive job losses and anything else easily categorized as dire.
That's because the community - anchored by a major state university and buoyed by its high quality of life and perch between the state capital to the west and a major metro area to the east - isn't about to change its steadying ways.
"I really feel that we're positioned well," said Jim Otten, a Lawrence dentist and chairman of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. "We're naturally going to experience some of the fallout from any economic downturn, but there aren't wild swings upward or downward. We're fairly steady in our growth."
It's a mantra being repeated up and down Lawrence's economic landscape these days: Things may not be great, but they could be much, much worse.
For years, homeowners have counted on the Lawrence market to give back the payoffs generated by ever-increasing valuation notices and a steady inventory of new construction.
Then the market cooled. Builders slowed their work to the slowest pace in two dozen years, leaving a far-above-average inventory of properties flooding the market.
Sales declined 8 percent last year in Lawrence, to their lowest level in a decade. The decrease came on top of a 10 percent drop from a year earlier.
But before anyone thinks the market had gone from boom to bust, consider this: The average price paid for a home in Lawrence actually increased 5 percent last year, to $201,452, according to McGrew Real Estate.
People continue to see value in Lawrence and its historically steady pace of economic success, said Mike McGrew, the agency's president and chief executive officer. While national credit concerns, foreclosure worries and talk of recession aren't helping here, people are still buying and selling homes no matter how tight mortgage markets become.
"The fact is, Lawrence has weathered lots of storms in the past," McGrew said, as the spring homes market dawned, "and we're going to weather this one."
Or try economic development.
The chamber, which handles business-attraction responsibilities on behalf of the city, isn't exactly fielding tons of inquiries from prospects, but the activity hasn't slowed to a trickle.
Beth Johnson, the chamber's vice president for economic development, said that she had received 64 inquiries last year from such prospects, up slightly from the annual five-year average of 62. But she was forced to turn away 34 of those inquiries before they could entertain a pitch.
The city simply has too few industrial properties to offer prospects, or at least not at the sizes - at least 100 acres, typically - in demand, Johnson said.
But instead of complaining, Johnson and others are rallying efforts for the city to support acquisition of the former Farmland Industries Inc. fertilizer plant site for use as a future business park. And there's talk from private developers of establishing a business park near Lawrence Municipal Airport, or on property near the Lecompton interchange along the Kansas Turnpike.
Tough economic times can heighten the urgency to push for projects that may be needed now, Johnson said, but likely won't be realized for some time to come.
Given the community's location, educated work force, research resources and continued high quality of life, she said, Lawrence's long-term outlook remains strong. People just have to think ahead.
"Economic development is not a tomorrow game," she said.
Or consider employment.
While efforts to attract new businesses have turned up few successes in recent months, leaders have turned their attention to programs that could help make a difference in the future.
Among them: creation of the Douglas County Manufacturing Certificate Program, a workforce-development effort organized by the chamber and Heartland Works, Johnson County Community College, the Lawrence and Eudora school districts, Sauer-Danfoss and Berry Plastics.
It's an employment-based certification program designed to give people who don't go to college a chance to gain access to technical and manufacturing jobs in the area.
Participants will get classroom training, provided free of charge, through the community college. They will be paid for their time in class and at work, where they will be on the line learning skills on the job.
Stacy Walters, a business consultant for Heartland Works, said that, yes, the program would be a major benefit for people looking for jobs. But she emphasized that it also would serve a greater good for the entire community, by supplying manufacturers and other operations with qualified employees, and showing that the community cares enough about their success that they would undertake such a focused program.
If other employers outside of Lawrence take notice and decide they want to be a part of the community? Well, so be it.
"We're building a model," Walters said, noting that the program would be expected to offer a steady supply of workers to participating companies, no matter what economic conditions might surface.