Archive for Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dismal report

A state analysis paints a dismal picture of economic development efforts in Lawrence and Douglas County.

March 22, 2008

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The overall expenditure of $1.5 billion over the past five years to improve and enhance Kansas' economic development is a sizable amount: $630 million spent by state agencies and an estimated $860 million in tax revenue that has been forgone at both state and local levels.

However, the amount spent by Kansas was just about in the middle of what five neighboring states (Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma) allocated for economic development.

Lawrence and Douglas County officials, as well as area residents, should be interested, disappointed and angered by the summation in a report by the Kansas Legislature's Division of Post-Audit of actions taken in Kansas communities to spur economic development. The five communities are Johnson County/Olathe, Douglas County/Lawrence, Finney County/Garden City, Ellis County/Hays and Crawford County/Girard.

Of the five communities, four reported they are worse off than they were a few years ago; only Johnson County officials said their community is better off. "Further," according to the Post-Audit report, "only Johnson and Finney counties currently have viable prospects for new large-scale economic development projects."

A Post-Audit team visited each of the listed communities in December 2007 and January 2008. At each community, team members interviewed city and county officials and sometimes other officials such as chamber of commerce representatives. They also toured the sites and observed new and recent developments, along with areas being considered for development.

The report on Lawrence and Douglas County:

"Officials we interviewed said that Douglas County and the City of Lawrence don't have a unified plan for how to spur economic development. Current county, city and chamber of commerce officials agree that providing financial assistance to companies is necessary. However, they say that elected officials are unwilling to make the necessary financial commitments - such as acquiring land and extending infrastructure. Douglas County and Lawrence officials are very interested in attracting bioscience companies to partner with researchers at the University of Kansas, but they contend the lack of investment in land, buildings and infrastructure have hindered this effort."

That's a dismal analysis of an area that once was a model for growth and development. What happened? It's obvious there is a lack of leadership in Lawrence, in the county and at the university.

Comments

not_dolph 7 years, 2 months ago

merrill commenting on anything related to economic development...now that's funny.

Michael Capra 7 years, 2 months ago

knock knock knock hello anyone here,damm planning department no one is ever there

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch.But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by single-family housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality. The powers that be consistently laughed this off when advised of such at least a decade ago by those with expertise in these matters.

Impact fees could be designed to protect citizens on one side of town from having to pay for subsidizing the growth in demand caused by the development on the other side of town. Chamber led commissions have laughed off that plan at the request of those who create artificial growth which expands wallets of the few.

In order for the city to have orderly growth, developers need to be responsible for a certain amount of the infrastructure. Most builders understand impact fees are for a purpose that improves their development.

Slow, methodical and orderly growth is the missing link in Lawrence,Kansas. The housing boom is not paying for itself. As with all booms the bottom falls out sooner or later.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

The real estate industry fought tooth and nail to prevent the SE Area Industrial Corridor from taking place... there are houses instead. Need more be said.

If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch.But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by single-family housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.

It is beginning to appear the powers that be do not know what they are doing. Why leave the Chamber of Commerce in charge of economic growth?

I am told that in some urban growth consulting circles Lawrence,Kansas is held up as one of the models of how not to grow a city.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

Building a bedroom community is not a model of growth or economic development. Over building retail is not a model of growth or economic development. When advised this was taking place at least ten years ago by individuals with specific expertise the commissions merely laughed it off as impossible. It was laughed off in our recent past when Placemakers advised this community of such.

Ignoring people with expertise in these matters is not a model in which to realize economic growth. The Chamber of Commerce/housing/real estate/development industry has had majority control at the City,County and planning commissions for at least the 20 of the past 24 years. Any one of those bodies can over ride the planning department any day of the week.

Our bodies of government have also ignored calls over the years for doing a Cost of Community Services Study which provides some data as to what areas of growth are not paying back or not paying for themselves.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

"Current county, city and chamber of commerce officials agree that providing financial assistance to companies is necessary. However, they say that elected officials are unwilling to make the necessary financial commitments - such as acquiring land and extending infrastructure. Douglas County and Lawrence officials are very interested in attracting bioscience companies to partner with researchers at the University of Kansas, but they contend the lack of investment in land, buildings and infrastructure have hindered this effort."

The statement above has no foundation. These folks still want the taxpayers to fund their wealth initiative. There has never been a lack of investment in land or infrastructure. Our county, city and chamber of commerce officials then and now have chosen to fill up valuable space with housing to support a boom thinking the bottom would never drop out.

newatthezoo 7 years, 2 months ago

The lack of growth being reported is the result of the slow-growth/no growth progressives on the city commission. It is thanks to them that we have stagnated as a community.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 2 months ago

I personally believe the east side of Lawrence is one of the worst things I have ever seen. I have traveled to probably 47 states and numerous countries, logged millions of travel miles, and I have seldom seen a more poorly planned approach to a great community. At the same time, we need small to medium industrial areas as well as large. These must be built near major roads. The roads have to solve the K10 bottleneck or someday soon we are going to have to ring some necks if we don't get out of this situation.

You reap what you sow and disunity reaps a bad harvest everytime.

BigPrune 7 years, 2 months ago

The leaders are in hiding because they don't want to take their families to hell and back what with the anti-leader writing campaigns to the newspaper, the vandalism to their property, their good reputation to uphold. Nah, they don't want to come out. They are afraid of the so-called open minded ripping them to shreds at every chance, or the conspirators at the ready to make these leaders look bad.

You certainly won't find the good leaders at the Chamber.

BigPrune 7 years, 2 months ago

ps. Some of the good leaders would prefer stay away from the newspaper. One bad article can crucify a person for life. We need brave mavericks.

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