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Job creation No. 1 concern on business front in ’09

December 30, 2008

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of stories looking ahead to 2009.

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After enduring a year in which the biggest business victory came thanks to a coach named Bill and a clutch shooter named Mario, leaders on the community’s economic-development team are eager to get back into the game when it comes to jobs, investment and — that’s right — recruiting.

A national basketball title for Kansas University certainly served up thousands of T-shirts, tequila shots and tourists, but business leaders contend that the only way for the entire community to win consistently is to create an environment for worthwhile employment.

“We will rise and fall with our ability to grow jobs,” said Mike McGrew, owner of McGrew Real Estate and vice chairman for economic development at the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. “Jobs need to be a priority, if not the priority.”

City leaders will convene a study session early in 2009 to discuss the community’s economic-development policy, strategies and programs. The discussion will come early in the tenure of Tom Kern, who started in November as president of the chamber, and will come as campaigns for the Lawrence City Commission will be rolling toward the April 7 general election.

Rob Chestnut, a Lawrence city commissioner who is in line to become mayor in April, said there was no time to waste.

With plenty of discussion already under way about sites for industrial development — a planned industrial park northwest of town along the Farmer’s Turnpike; the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant site at the southeastern edge of Lawrence; and an 87-acre lot in the adjacent East Hills Business Park — the community needs to come up with a workable process that helps existing businesses expand and other businesses to move in.

“Even though we don’t have a lot of prospects right now,” Chestnut said, “we need to look at all of those opportunities and see what rises to the top and may need some help and a little bit of investment, and maybe get us a good employer here in town.

“We need to make sure we’re not taking our eye off the ball. When there are situations, opportunities to expand — whatever — we want to be sure we’re considered.”

Sammy Sangam figures he’s doing his part. The owner of the Speedway Shell gasoline station, 1733 Mass., recently signed up to be a certified dealer for No Burn products, a line of flame-retardant paints.

Sure, he knows the city’s development sector has slowed, and construction of new homes has virtually ground to a halt. But that’s no way to greet a new year.

“I’m an incorrigible optimist, that’s the problem with me,” said Sangam, who’s had the Shell station for six years. “If we lie low, things will change. That’s the way everybody has to look at it. If everybody sees the dark clouds, somebody has to see the silver lining.”

McGrew has seen enough of the dark clouds. He’s watched as this year’s sales of single-family homes fell in Lawrence by 20 percent from a year ago, a drop that came on top of a slide “in the teens” from a year earlier.

“I don’t think Lawrence has ever seen one year of decline like that, let alone two years in a row,” McGrew said.

Still, he hopes to be “pleasantly surprised” in 2009, should the Federal Reserve’s cuts in interest rates, plus investments from an expected economic-stimulus program, start to “bear fruit” and get things going again.

“I’m optimistic we’ll start turning the corner, but I’m not sure how long it will take before we’re above the treetops again,” McGrew said.

Comments

kujayhawk83 5 years, 3 months ago

Well said Bowhunter99! No entitlement attitude ever got anyone very far in life.

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Bowhunter99 5 years, 3 months ago

why do commitments from business have to have clauses such as 'living wages' for people doing meaningless work?that's what the minimum wage is for... Want to earn 15-50/hr? good... find the skills that warrant such hourly rates. Don't force some business to pay you $15/hr to clean the floors or answer some phone...If you do the least you can do as an individual, then the companies have every right to pay you the least they can.

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quik 5 years, 3 months ago

Just an FYI. Amarr is tight with the LJW and that may explain why the picture was removed yesterday. Also, members of Amarr management do read these boards and are very concerned with their public perception.

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BigPrune 5 years, 3 months ago

This is really election year drivel. If someone that deals with the City and knows how difficult it is to do business with the City publicly spoke their mind on what needs to change, the City and their influencers would squash that person like a bug.Can't forget all the nutjobs with their letter to the editor intimidation campaigns - so nobody says squat, because everyone knows it wouldn't be in their best interest to raise some hell publicly.

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tangential_reasoners_anonymous 5 years, 3 months ago

... a a a h h h h h h h h a a a h h h h h h h h a a a h h h h h h h h ...

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none2 5 years, 3 months ago

Sigmund (Anonymous) says…"Seriously folks, lets play a little game..."-----------------------------------Excellent post!

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Sigmund 5 years, 3 months ago

Katara (Anonymous) says…"That's interesting. If what you say is true, then why are there several business “parks” here setting empty?"Well at least one of them is empty because of the ethical lapses and self dealing of our mayor. Do you remember Deciphera Pharmaceuticals?http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/dec/11/details_citys_closeddoor_discussions_deciphera_rel/Katara (Anonymous) says…"The problem is that there are too many predatory companies shopping around for whichever city gives them the best “incentive” and when that incentive is no longer that great of an incentive or another city dangles their incentive, they blow out of town. With tax breaks and the loss of jobs when then they do, the city is no better off than they were before."Any incentives are based upon staying in town, employing a certain number of people, and other restrictions. No one is arguing that no commitments be required from businesses. No business would ever promise to remain in business in Lawrence forever.The City Commission recently reviewed their portfolio of businesses that received tax breaks and found most lived up to or exceed expectations. Yet the City of Lawrence doesn't even pay bus drivers a $11/hour and it loses money hands over fists. How much more would the empTy cost taxpayers if they did?The key is to be flexible, adapt and adjust policy based upon changing environment and individual circumstances which something that Lawrence, filled with ideological hardliners, is incapable of.

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Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

idiot_wind (Anonymous) says… It's real simple: if this town chooses to not invest in economic development (e.g. industrial parks, business incubators, incentives), then businesses go to communities that do invest in economic development. Hell, we are getting our collective butts kicked by the folks in Manhattan. It's time to pull our heads out of the sand, or other body parts, and realize that Lawrence has to bite the bullet and invest.~~~~~~~~~That's interesting. If what you say is true, then why are there several business "parks" here setting empty?The problem is that there are too many predatory companies shopping around for whichever city gives them the best "incentive" and when that incentive is no longer that great of an incentive or another city dangles their incentive, they blow out of town. With tax breaks and the loss of jobs when then they do, the city is no better off than they were before.If businesses want an incentive, then they need to make a solid commitment to the city.

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Sigmund 5 years, 3 months ago

davidmcg - Good post. Just for the record I wasn't defending any employer or management. I also have experienced the micro-management style you described and other types of mismanagement. But, is it the job of the city commission to enforce good management practices on employers in Lawrence? What leads you to believe that every single job deserves and every single employee should be paid $12/hour? Why not $10/hour or $15/hour? If an employer can't stay in business paying to high a labor costs who benefits if they go bankrupt? If good employees will accept less why should employers be forced to pay more? Isn't there a risk that the city commission will micro mismanage employers just as you were micro mismanaged by Amar?How many students want full time employment when they are taking a full load in college? Most college kids I know need a flexible part time schedule that can change to accommodate classes, basketball games, dates, and weekend parties. I'm not knocking them but shouldn't employers be able to pay less if they accommodate those requirements?But this is all academic. No rational employer would ever subject themselves to all the restrictions of this self dealing good ole boy politically connected city government when plenty of surrounding communities have larger work forces, less restrictions, fewer ethical lapses by mayor's and commissioners, better managed city governments, and lower taxes. Besides many existing Lawrence businesses, including Allen Press, depend on a lack of good jobs and lack of new employers allowing them to keep their wages low. Nothing is going to change here as long as the city commission and city government see their primary mission to protect existing employers and businesses from competition.

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davidmcg 5 years, 3 months ago

So what happened to the picture of the business from this morning -- Amarr Garage Doors? A good company, a great company? No way, I worked there I know. Despite getting great reviews, despite being characterized as a person to turn to for help, they treated me like crap. Amazingly I got wrote up for being late 1 minute. The charge for that was a full point, the same as if I had missed an entire shift. Where is the logic in that? Another time I had a blowout right down the street in the business park. I called before the shift started and stated I would be late. I was late 20 minutes, another point charge. My supervisor said I should have left the car, come to work and change the tire when I got off work. Yea right, leave the car on the side of the road and maybe the county wouldn't tow it or thieves discover it. All at the same time the supervisor was parking in a handicapped spot. No, Amarr in my book isn't good. Also, people here saying $12 an hour is to much for unproven help. You have got to be kidding right. They set the quota, you meet their quota and they still want to stick ya. A quota can not be met if product is not available and the help you need to make it is not available. They are the problem that they can not get help. Not the labor force. Look around, your in the middle of a farm community, a community with small rural schools who have a very active vo-tech program, turning out people who know how to fabricate anything from anything. Pay them for what they know how to do, and let them do it. Do not micro-manage them to death. What no labor force? look up on the hill, what is that? Oh, its a college bristling with students who need work to survive tuition, housing and materials. Sorry folks, Lawrence and the area has the labor force, the labor force with skills. What they don't have is employers who do not micro-manage, who are not greedy, and who pay a liveable wage. I am not a liberal. I am just somebody who has been around enough to know what a good employer is and isn't. Amarr could be a great place, but the corporate model does not allow it to be anything more than it is now. Lawrence has other employers just like it. I have heard rumors but never worked for them or applied with them. But look at the revolving doors of some of the big names. Look at who has worked there over time. Most of these are quality people who go on to work other places and finally find a place they are wanted. Wake up employers, you can't blame current economic downsides for all of your problems.

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Sigmund 5 years, 3 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront (Anonymous) says…"The commission cannot even hold to their promise to have blighted houses torn down. Methinks they are desperate for the property tax revenue."Absolutely correct. Take a look at those blighted areas with high crime rates peppered with crack houses and they regularly carried on the tax rolls at values over $100,000. Sub-prime homes for all those sub-prime loans which drove prices sky high the owners hide behind a LLC and Lawrence gets its share in real estate taxes. Want an example, imagine this property.1232 #01-7 Louisiana 1240 Louisiana St Associates LLC Last Year $132,390 Current Year $132,390Now check out this storyhttp://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/jul...

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Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

Everyone has to obey the rules, its just that simple. If you want to use the T Lift then you have to prove that you qualify for it. It's not a public bus. There are too few of these designated buses for all of the people in Lawrence that need it. One bus cannot be in five places at the same time, hence he need for scheduling rides.

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Sigmund 5 years, 3 months ago

Seriously folks, lets play a little game. Congratulations, you are smart, have worked hard, and now own a business that will be expanding and will employ 30-50 people. You pay good wages (less for new employees and part time, but more after a couple years experience and full time employees who have a good work record) so many communities would love to have you come to town. You are considering Lawrence and here is what you find. The City demands that you pay $12/hour for all employees including health benefits but it is in constant budget crisis largely because of fiscal mismanagement by overpaying and wasting its own money on consultants and studies, and that whose sales taxes are among the highest in the state in order to fund empTy buses that appear unneeded and designed to deliver people to and from downtown merchants benefiting of a few politically well connected landlords hidden behind limited partnerships.The last business venture, Dechipera, pulled out after unethical self dealing by the mayor. You can not build new facilities but are pressured to rent from people who have power and friends in City government that will also approve your licenses, who also happen to have a empTy building in a business park they need to be bailed out of, or empTy storefronts in an expensive increasingly empTy downtown?Did I mention that you also have to get approval of a Lawrence Business Czar who will determine if you are "liked" (politically correct) and your business is "needed" (doesn't compete with existing businesses) and that he will organize large numbers of kids to put on a freak show every time you appear at a City Commission meeting to oppose and intimidate you?Did I mention that the last business to expand in Lawrence had to bring a lawsuit against the city to force the Commission to follow their own zoning rules costing the City millions of taxpayer dollars? Or that it has taken decades and wasted millions to finish a road to nowhere to protect some frogs in a swamp?Don't forget the cost per square foot for housing is higher in Lawrence than in Johnson County which has lower sales taxes, better schools, better libraries, newer roads, is large enough to support Mass transit, doesn't have a business Czar, has a large competitive work force, will allow you to build as long as you follow the zoning and building codes, is financially well managed and has a balanced budget, and is just 20 miles east of Lawrence.Now remember, the reason you are successful is that you have worked hard and have made smart decisions. What would you do?

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 3 months ago

Sigmun, glad you brought up the auditor. Is that dude still sitting on Funksfrontporch with that whacko Gloria, Funk's wife.Or is the auditor busy running the night runs with his headlight on his head. He needs that light focused on City Hall.I cannot believe they have wasted money on an auditor because if everyone recalls, when Corliss was hired he was touted as being so knowledgeable about finances and able to explain things so clearly to the commission. Never mind that we have a commission made up of a Financial CEO, a person from the Educational community, a longtime business person, a member of the legal community and another business owner. But yet, they needed someone to explain things to them?Yikes, no wonder they are where they are.Could Corliss explain to them in 2009 that maybe they should all vote in favor of building new sidewalks on Mass clear to 23rd street. At least the fruits of their vote would be visible.McGrew and Chestnut best be paying attention to the future of some of the local employers.Sears Holding is going to close more stores, both Kmart and Sears and those funky named ones that Eddie Lampert so thought would be successful. That Greenwich, Connecticut dude is so far removed from reality in the US as well. His gig is to make money and it ain't happening. Washer and dryers aren't going to sell inside a Kmart. That was tried years ago and it failed.I often wonder if our local leaders, yet to be identified ever travel and look at other towns and ponder what has happened in and around them and then try to relate that to Lawrence.How long before Greeting cards will be made in Afghanistan and shipped back to the US. How long before the KU Shirts all in question will be made in Peru, Cambodia, and sent back to Lawrence?What has to happen in Lawrence is that the old "guard" needs to realize that they are just that, old! No new ideas. No guts.Merrill keeps talking about investing in eastside infracstructure. WEll, merrill, you and your neighborhood group along with the others have had over 30 years of federal money to do such with, but you have continued to allow Margene and the staff at city hall to spend it elsewhere. Spend it in Alvamar,spend it on homeless , spend it on projects at South park, only to bulldoze out the pool and build it new again. That all needs to change in 2009. No more paid neighborhood coordinators. No more newsletters for each of the target neighborhoods. One newspaper and each group gets a page, that's it. Printed at city hall and done by the staff which is paid anyway.Happy New Year, There is more in the paper bag of surprises yet to come.The commission cannot even hold to their promise to have blighted houses torn down. Methinks they are desperate for the property tax revenue. Yea or Nay?

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Sigmund 5 years, 3 months ago

The current political structure and Lawrence City Commission (both past and present) is designed to protect those "entities" from outside competition both in business and real estate values. The purpose of the LJW (including Chad "Cub reporter" Lawhorn) and the World Company is to push their agenda and protect them from any possible embarrassment. Despite all the crying and lamentations when Deciphera blew up in their faces, the City Commission has yet to deliver on it's tearful promises of "openness" and "transparency." They hired an auditor who has never been seen again. Maybe Chad Lawhorn could do a five part series on this missing person, I am sure it will be award winning.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 3 months ago

The bus system is so ill conceived and stupidly run that my 88 year old friend has to fill out an application just to ride the T Lift. Crap, the woman is 88 years old. Why cant' she just call the day before and get an appointment to pick her up and likewise anyone should be able to. After all, they will pay more than the regular fare. How stupid can a community be?Other communities have systems that work fine and do not discriminate on the basis of age , color, sex or handicap. that's one thing for beginners wrong with the T.Chestnut and the commissioners cannot even fix that.

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Sigmund 5 years, 3 months ago

BTW, the empTy is NOT designed to get people to work, it is designed to deliver customers to the cash registers of Downtown Lawrence merchants. Here is a list courtesy of Max1:6th & Massachusetts (8 properties)werts robert f trusteepostoak investmentsbridgewater comarsh robert k cotrusteeskring dale rliberty hall associatesgcb holdings lcgcb holdings lc7th & Massachusetts (34 properties)700 MASS LCcity of lawrenceeldridge house holding llcnickel building lcbaldwinsville tri-angle holding corpnickel building lcnickel building lccraig-bush llcconnelly james d & CARA L716 east llcschumm robertschumm robert jjayhawk equities llcgoldmakers inc724 LLCbroad enterprises llchetzel park iii trusteesjayhawk equities llchetzel park iii trusteeskanwaka llchdd of lawrence llcgerling llcmalott joel cotrusteesgerling llccompton douglas jgerling two llckearney edgar d cotrusteesmiller building of lawrence llcmiller freda co-trusteeskim jong hclaeys jeremy rkim jong h & SOON Awolfson markcaspian group lc the8th & Massachusetts (38 properties)heartland leasing llccity of lawrenceround corner drug co incmillstein david tmillstein david tconsolidated properties inc of lawrenceestes john t808 massachusetts partnershipprairie pond lczen zero incgerling two llcjones sally rgerling llceisele sandra lcornelius larry lG & P LC819 massachusetts llc820 massachusetts llcgarrison dennisJ & J CO LCernst philip rready corporation fiveernst philip rontjes david algb propertieshouk janice l trusteeernst edna m trusteeschubert james f trusteegrantham james d trusteesdouglas county properties llcnoll frederick n trusteehetzel park iii trusteescampbell ralph w trusteeamyx t michaelfurse lckraft duane l trusteegerling llcvance thomas m trustees9th & Massachusetts (24 properties)first national bank of lawrenceweavers incG & P LCtnar incstein richard mnorris holdings lcbirdsall virginia oterra firma ltdraney richard h trusteesconner james efayman properties llclester robert mround corner building corpcoen jennifer h trusteewilkerson thomas lwarner margaret meveritt elinor b trusteezacharias peter wpepple robert lla zen llcgraham jack l trusteeneverve jerald l1908 realty llchetzel park iii trustees10th & Massachusetts (20 properties)berkeley company l cconsolidated properties incconsolidated properties inc of lawrenceemick holdings lcconsolidated properties incjayhawk equities llcjayhawk equities llcwood tomziegler rentals llccrandon brent t hgranada llcernst philip rstrong gary bventana investments lcconsolidated properties of lawrence incemick holdings lchanna john phanna john pallen press incdouglas co historicalhttp://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/dec...

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Sigmund 5 years, 3 months ago

Cleopatra (Leslie Swearingen) says… "What is this continuing animosity about the bus?"Besides the fact that it is barely used by 5% of Lawrence and costs 2.5 million dollars every year it is one of the reasons why Lawrence will soon have the highest sales tax rate in Kansas which is just another nail in the coffin for new businesses and jobs in Lawrence Kansas. Other than that, no reason for the animosity at all.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 3 months ago

Cleopatra, the workers at most plants in Lawrence drive cars because they do not live in lawrence and don't plan to. Lawrence does not have a labor force. simple as that.

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Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

What is this continuing animosity about the bus? What is the point of building plants if you can't get the workers to work?I have had very good experiences with Sunflower so far. I have received prompt help which readily solved the problem.If you really want to know about the budget of Lawrence you can go to:http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget2009/2009_adopted_operating_and_capital_improvment_budget.pdfand find out everything there is to know. Warning there is 256 pages so consider this as a test of your willingness to learn facts.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 3 months ago

Mr. McGrew and Mr. Chestnut: For employers to come to Lawrence they must have a stable and trained labor force both in manufacturing and other skilled trades whether high tech or blue collar. Lawrence must get off it's snobbish attitude that blue collar is not acceptable. After all, it was blue collar that created the tax base. Farmland, FMC, Sunflower, Lawrence Paper, Stokely, KMart, Quaker, Color Press (everyone has forgotten that Color Press was made famous for it's contract with TV Guide!!).I would suggest that Mr. McGrew and Mr. Chestnut do their own personal survey of all local employers including KU and the city of Lawrence and count the number of employees who drive into Lawrence from other counties. They should also look at the currently employed of both KU, and the City and tell us how many live outside of the city limits of Lawrence and the county, i.e. Douglas county.Established employers who come here with their top managment want more than basketball and football. They have spouses and those women don't want to live in Lawrence when they can live near Town Center in Johnson county. How many of the current top execs of companies in town actually live here? We know that the head of LHH does not.This rhetoric about jobs creation is the same old, tired, worn out subject of each commission. Homeless, jobs, traffic calming devices, snow shoveling, pet ordinance, unrelated people in houses.Mr. McGrew and Mr. Chestnut, get some new topics. Pick something you can accomplish, if it be nothing more than building a new sidewalk where none has been for 50 years. Massachusetts street is a good example.I am still waiting for houses to be torn down that the city issued demolition permits for. You can't even accomplish that.Your zoning is so restrictive, you have let the neighborhood groups become your city planners and architects. You did it and now you reap the rewards of your sitting on your thumbs.Even in the county, it is near impossible for anyone to do anything with their own land.The pioneers who homesteaded and the generation who went to work after WWII in this community and other cities and towns, sit back and shake their heads and wonder how could their children and grandchildren become so "ignorant' if you will.Look at what has failed Lawrence before you start dreaming about next year.

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rachaelisacancer 5 years, 3 months ago

One look at today's employment classifieds shows Lawrence needs jobs. I for one hope "talking about it" will merit some good. I'm sick of driving to Topeka for work and I'm not interested in moving to Kansas City unless I absolutely have to.

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Bob Zimmerman 5 years, 3 months ago

hey weluvbowling, “…becoming a low income ghetto-like community; similar to 90% of the other towns in Kansas.”idiot_wind…OMG have you been to Leavenworth? LOL you are so right there! As far as Lawrence becoming like Leavenworth, I honestly don't see that happening though!"All I know is that the longer I live here, the more dilapidated homes I see. The more I drive around, the more potholes I feel. The more I look for places to shop, I notice the closed store fronts downtown as well as in the strip malls on the west and south sides. The more I walk around, the more trash I see in front yards. Would there be any outrage if several bags of garbage are dumped on Vermont street or would drivers just dodge them and mumble: "damn college students". So yes, Lawrence can become ghetto-like. I've seen it happen to other communities.

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BigPrune 5 years, 3 months ago

Though I am pessimistic about new jobs being created anywhere in the country in '09, the very first thing Lawrence needs to do is REMOVE THE STIGMA that Lawrence is business unfriendly. Time to face the facts, because Lawrence IS unfriendly to businesses. Things need to change to open up opportunities for companies who might consider Lawrence. We are competing with every other city in the United States.The former City Commission started it, the sitting City Commission hasn't done jack sh*t about it, and NOW they want to do something right before election.If a farmer pays $5000 a year in property taxes and some company that will employ 200 wants to build on the same land and wants it tax free for 10 years, then it is safe to say that the payoff will be MUCH greater by letting this company have it tax free. Lawrence has empty retail space that essentially cannot be rented out anymore because of City imposed restrictions - again, passed by the former City Commission and the new City Commission has done NOTHING to correct it. It creates a false vacancy rate and fulfills some professor's grand plan to keep Lawrence from growing or new things from being built. It wouldn't be hard to change things. We'll have to see if anything REALLY gets changed.

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weluvbowling 5 years, 3 months ago

"...becoming a low income ghetto-like community; similar to 90% of the other towns in Kansas."idiot_wind...OMG have you been to Leavenworth? LOL you are so right there! As far as Lawrence becoming like Leavenworth, I honestly don't see that happening though!

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coolhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

This company. Sunflower/The World Companies pay their employees dirt cheap, do not pay any college or education re-imbursement and the health care programs and employee programs are expensive. They don't do much for employees except pay a minimal wage. Their theory is burn and churn with no employee development. Sunflower's churn at the customer service level is about 90% within 6 months. They can't retain employees because they treat them like crap and micro-manage everything they do. With no good reason to stay - they leave. That's why when you call Sunflower, you talk with someone that doesn't know anything - they've only been on the job for a couple weeks and will probably leave soon anyway. So why would a person want to to work there? Current companies in Lawrence need to get on the ball and put together programs that retain employees into the city where they live. A lot of the reason for no growth and no business is that local companies can hire young struggling employees for nothing and with no benefits. Until that changes, there will be no growth.

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Bob Zimmerman 5 years, 3 months ago

hey Sigmund, If what you say is accurate, then you have laid down the gauntlet. We've got to fight for some positive change in this town. Otherwise the streets will only get more potholes; if that's possible. Hell, I can't walk at night in my neighborhood because the sidewalks are dangerous and there are no streetlights. There are way too many houses in town that have garbage in the front yards or the porches are falling apart. There are too many yards and lots that are full of weeds. We better watch it, the slope is slippery. Lawrence may be headed towards becoming a low income ghetto-like community; similar to 90% of the other towns in Kansas.

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Sigmund 5 years, 3 months ago

JOEHAWK (Anonymous) says… "Amazing! Not one comment of support. What a bunch of glass half empty people you are."It is because we have been there and done that. Here is a short list of the only jobs acceptable: Must be green, must pay $12/hour, must have free health insurance, must be accessible using the empTy, must use an existing structure owned by a local investor, must benefit a majority of the City Commission and acceptable to the Bozo Business Czar, must not compete with existing downtown businesses or the Merc, must be locally owned and not a corporation, and must not mind operating in a city with a well earned reputation for being business unfriendly, having undependable workforce, and with the highest sales tax rates in the state.I for one am not holding my breath.

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weluvbowling 5 years, 3 months ago

"Sadly, I have had more employees who care more about what they can steal or how little work they can get away with than who want to see the company succeed. So then I fire the bad employees and they talk just like you guys." JOEHAWK, my Husband (not a thief or lazy) had wonderful attendance and was a good worker, knew his job better than anyone from what I have been told by other co-workers...the reason he left was due to the fact that they had pretty much taken away every benefit that drove an employee to work and do good work. Not to mention there were other underlying medical conditions that have since been diagnosed and treated properly.

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kujayhawk83 5 years, 3 months ago

I for one am ready for some more wins for Lawrence. Another local company (like Berry) doing an expansion that adds jobs, or an outside company that chooses to come here over all the other choices that are out there.When gas was $4 I heard lots of folks saying they couldn't afford to live in Lawrence and drive to KC for their jobs. Gas is cheaper now but for how long?We need the jobs to be here. And we need all types of them, as many as we can get.

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cowboy 5 years, 3 months ago

I agree idiot , currently our investment is directed at a number of ineffective salary positions in the city and C of C . Put the money to direct usage in actual programs with tangible results. The current " lets talk about it" approach is just a waste of time and money.

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SMe 5 years, 3 months ago

"Rob Chestnut, a Lawrence city commissioner who is in line to become mayor in April, said there was no time to waste."Hey Rob! There was no time to waste Eight to Ten years ago but all the City Comissions did and look where you folks have brought us!Good Job.

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Bob Zimmerman 5 years, 3 months ago

Hey Lawrence people, This community is competing with Overland Park, De Soto, Manhattan, as well as St. Joe, MO; Columbia, MO; Austin, TX; and Boulder, CO to keep the businesses we have and attract new ones. I know this to be true because I've been involved with companies that have chosen those communities over Lawrence. It's real simple: if this town chooses to not invest in economic development (e.g. industrial parks, business incubators, incentives), then businesses go to communities that do invest in economic development. Hell, we are getting our collective butts kicked by the folks in Manhattan. It's time to pull our heads out of the sand, or other body parts, and realize that Lawrence has to bite the bullet and invest.

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Bud Stagg 5 years, 3 months ago

Amazing! Not one comment of support. What a bunch of glass half empty people you are. I think new jobs are a wonderful idea. They create more payroll, which creates spending, which creates taxes.As far as your comments about management, I don't know anything about the company pictured. However I do know as a business owner, I see it from the other side. Over the years I have had great employees. Sadly, I have had more employees who care more about what they can steal or how little work they can get away with than who want to see the company succeed. So then I fire the bad employees and they talk just like you guys. It works both ways folks. People who look at life with a glass half empty are usually disgruntled employees no matter where they work.Bring on the jobs as fast as you can! I agree they should be as high paying as possible.

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cowboy 5 years, 3 months ago

These folks will have a meeting , appoint a committee , have a kumbayah song fest , and then it will be 2010 and nothing will get done . Want new jobs ? Create an environment that will generate them !Bring in certified CC programs IN Lawrence for HVAC , Computer techs , Xray techs , plumbing apprenticeships. start and fund a small biz incubator district for owner operated start ups in retail , arts , manufacturing , service sectors. Let the small owner be the driver of new business.

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weluvbowling 5 years, 3 months ago

Canusayduh...were you salary or hourly and were you a "higher up" or just an "office worker"? I hate to say "just" but you know what I mean if you worked there! While people are talking about earnings, I interviewed at this company to work in their call center and I am so glad they denied me employment...I obtained a wonderful job making about $4 more an hour and my employer also pays for my college courses to further my career instead of giving you a glass ceiling to top out at! Oh, and it's NOT in Lawrence, it's in Leavenworth of all places!

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canusayduh 5 years, 3 months ago

weluvbowling, i worked also worked in the company in the picture above, and can say, i had an office job there for 5 years as well, and they didn't care about us either.

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weluvbowling 5 years, 3 months ago

"there are plenty of employers like the one in the picture who don't really care about their employees." Since my husband, Bill, walked away from that place in October I don't think I could have said it better myself! After watching them not care about the hourly employees for 5 years he gave up. The "higher ups" were taken care of but p*ss on the little man and from what we understand that hasn't changed to date.

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logrithmic 5 years, 3 months ago

Quit taking my tax dollars to pay for your job Blowhunter.And don't get me started on your rightwing bailout of investment banks and speculators.

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

If the city wants to spend tax dollars from the general fund it should go to eastside infrastructure that has been ignored for about 25 years. This could create plenty of jobs for about two years, plus improve attitudes, create plenty of new economic growth with wages and prevent east Lawrence from becoming a slum area. Ignoring neighborhoods is how slums are born.

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Bowhunter99 5 years, 3 months ago

a $10-11/hr job is a wonderful step forward for those making min wage, etc.... If you don't want it, then don't apply for it and get the skills necessary to be paid more.Any new job is a good job in Lawrence. Those who are complaining should ask people that currently makes less than 11 and/or has no job...

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

Neither should money be spent unwisely in the name of planning ahead. Taxpayers should demand hard evidence of who's coming,how will a new business impact the economic growth...where's the hard evidence and do tax abatements work....where's the hard evidence.This town has had enough speculation over the last 25 years. What we've gotten in return is inflated real estate values to pay for the bedroom community growth aka boomtown economics resulting in inflated property taxes.The flooded markets are resulting in property value depreciation with higher taxes and user fees to cover the depreciating values = unfriendly to homeowners.Flooding the retail market further will screw over existing business owners = unfriendly to business.In essence adopting the "stay the course" Bush mentality for Lawrence economic growth has been a failure. Neither of the two new light industrial projects have substance behind them only speculation. FarmLand is an existing resource Lawrence should work with, before wasting tax dollars on completely new infrastructure anywhere else.It appears that eastside tax dollars have been spent on the westside leaving eastside infrastructure to deteriorate irresponsibly. If Lawrence cannot afford to repair the eastside why build new infrastructure?

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davidmcg 5 years, 3 months ago

More jobs? Great news for the Lawrence area. But what kind of jobs and what kind of employers does Lawrence want? There are jobs a plenty that pay $10-$11 an hour and then lay you off every winter. Then there are plenty of employers like the one in the picture who don't really care about their employees. Lawrence needs real jobs. Jobs that pay real money, that have real benefits, employers who care about their employees and their employee's families. Not employers who look for every opportunity to penalize the people who make the companies money. So go lure them to the city. Lawrence has to be about more than cheap labor and a college. There is no reason not to get real jobs in this area. There is no reason why so many people drive to KC or Topeka to work to support their families.

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logrithmic 5 years, 3 months ago

Sure. Let's buy more jobs. Deciphira style. Pay for them by raising taxes on food and medicine. That way the poor can earn their way to the table. The well-to-do can simply sit down and start eating - all at taxpayer expense. Watch carefully Lawrence at how this pro-chamber city commission takes from the poor and gives to the rich. All in the name of development.More Sprawlmarts anyone?

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