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Letters to the Editor

Chamber role

May 13, 2008

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To the editor:

The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce is seeking a new president and CEO. This presents an opportunity to rethink the role of the chamber in economic development.

The chamber is, as it should be, an advocate for the business community. Economic development involves the expansion of the local economy though public-private partnerships using a minimum of taxpayer expenditure and generating a maximum of new jobs, wages and tax revenues.

The chamber cannot be both an advocate for the business community and fairly represent the taxpayers in the design, negotiation and implementation of economic development programs. Too many of the chamber's actions in the past have misled the city into failed tax incentives, speculative buildings that sit empty, secret illegal meetings and offering unnecessary subsidies to high-risk firms, all at taxpayer expense. This is a record of failure that the taxpayers cannot afford.

Economic development planning should be carried out by skilled, professional planners who are employed by the city and answer only to the City Commission. It is foolish to think that anyone who is on the payroll of the Chamber of Commerce will go against the wishes of the chamber and side with the interests of the taxpayers when these interests are in conflict, as they frequently are.

The city needs to redefine the role of the chamber and bring economic development inside City Hall, leaving the Chamber of Commerce to advocate for business from outside City Hall, along with all the other advocacy groups.

Kirk McClure,
Lawrence

Comments

not_holroyd 5 years, 11 months ago

Such a beautiful day. And rain is on the way too. If you have to drive to go to work, drive carefully, because you have loved ones back in Lawrence. Take time to say hi to your neighbors, especially if you are in one of the older 5 neighborhood. Especially to those crusty old ones in Oread. Some unfortunates never married and only have their computer to talk to. It is so sad. Especially when the flowers just a block or two away are so in bloom.Remember to smell the roses today.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 11 months ago

Thanks to everyone who lives in Lawrence and leaves town each day. The gas stations love it on K-10. The flowers won't need to be watered today, rain is on the way. Thanks to those employed in Lawrence who get a teat check and take their paycheck to another town and county. You are so thoughtful and to ask for a raise is really considerate. Better hope the rain does come, those flowers planted may die the same slow death that is taking place in the five whored out target neighborhoods of the city, aka the prostitutes of city hall for Federal monies aka CDBG. . YMCA west, grocery stores west, car dealerships heading west, upscale shopping heading west, EAST? pawn shops, parole offices, payday loans, burger king, and not even a Church's fried chicken yet. When Popeyess comes, the east side, that being east of Kasold will have arrived as a true destination for the impoverished.Will that order be to 'dine in" or "takeout"?

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 11 months ago

Yes I agree the city should pull funding from the Chamber because of not meeting the city's demand for a solid economy. Boom town economies never last and end abruptly.The Chamber of Commerce is suppose to seek what will keep the economy strong. Instead it over loads retail which only creates economic displacement. Does the Chamber needs more experienced help?Will a new CEO make things better? I do not see how. The executive board is maybe the problem... they still represent the same old tired ways of the last 20 years.This Chamber and commissioners want new business to locate to Lawrence at the same time there is no security for new business because the powers that be will soon build more that will house competition which could put new business out of business. Why? There are only so many retail dollars available in any community.Over built residential with no employment increases fees and taxes in a community. Perhaps the builders/developers are dictating growth beyond the city's capacity to support and moving way too fast instead of slow and methodical.

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not_holroyd 5 years, 11 months ago

It sure is a beautiful day outside. I want to thank all the East Hills employees who live and work in Douglas County thanks for all of their hard efforts.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 11 months ago

So East Hills paid over 2 million in taxes and how much did each taxpayer in town have theirs drop? And not only that, why then isn't the original $750,000 been repaid to the taxpayers for purchasing the land. Wages don't produce sales tax. yntonow you are assuming these employees at East Hills spend their money in Lawrence. NOT

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ynotnow 5 years, 11 months ago

The county funds Economic Development too...why is just the City funding you have a problem with?Also--do you honestly think that a business would WANT to come here? To be beat up at commission meetings and told that they have to follow "hard-headed deals" when the community down the road is welcoming them with open arms and tax abatements? It is basic business. If I go here I get a 5 year 100% tax abatement...if I go here I will get beat up on and they still won't give me any incentive. Hmmm...how should I frame the financial future of my business? Lawrence is not that cool to make a CFO just have to be here. And East Hills paid over $2 million in taxes last year alone. Let alone the income taxes and then add the wages that are producing sales tax. Do your research.

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Godot 5 years, 11 months ago

Burress was wrong in 2007, and he is wrong now. The city has no responsibility to determine what businesses are "right" for Lawrence. The City should have no say whatsoever about the leadership and operation of the Chamber of Commerce. However, since the City of Lawrence provides hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Chamber, some would say that the City has the right to influence Chamber leadership. Chamber members should demand that the Chamber refuse all monies from the City so that they can remain free of City influence. Lawrence citizens should demand that the City stop funding the Chamber. The two entities should be separate.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 11 months ago

No more public tax dollars to buy industrial park land. We have been screwed now for 20 years with East Hills. The taxpayers spent $750,000 just for the land. That amount has never been returned to the county coffers. On top of that the new revenue from industry has not helped to reduce the overall property taxes. There is no point to bring any new business, industry to Lawrence unless it is part of a plan to reduce the current tax liability of everyone. No point. New Walmart? Property taxes, how much? How much will yours be reduced. No need for the tax revenue from the new Walmart. All it does is give the green light to USD 497, the city and the county to spend more than they will take in.

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 11 months ago

Thank you David Burress for these excellent suggestions on November 12,2007:If our political leaders want to improve job opportunities in Douglas County while minimizing cost to taxpayers and maintaining quality of life, they should do some common-sense things they haven't yet done:1. Commission an independent study of what industries are best for us, and what land and other resources they need, and what industries are counterproductive;2. Develop specific targets for industries, job numbers and quality, industrial land, and all other necessary resources;3. Adopt comprehensive plans showing which land and other resources will be provided, when it will be infrastructured, and how it will be financed;4. Perform thorough and public due diligence and then enter into hard-headed deals that include compliance with plans, binding wage standards, clawbacks for nonperformance, and public equity shares commensurate with public risk and public inputs;5. Enforce those deals in a business-like fashion.On the current front as a taxpayer the following are also important when items of growth appear on the agendas of our decision making bodies. Exactly how is each Chamber of Commerce Board member, city,county or planning commissioner invested with: the real estate/development communityDevelopers/Builders the new industrial park projects Existing industrial parks Housing Projects Retail ProjectsI would like this info disclosed for each agenda item under oath please. How many Chamber board members, county,city or planning commissioners or city staff are invested in Dicephera ?I would like this info disclosed under oath please. All of the above should be a matter of public record for reasons of transparency. For all sitting board members, elected officials and Chamber of Commerce officials who disagree, I suggest resignation

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Bowhunter99 5 years, 11 months ago

Cool is ALWAYS part of the problem... as a matter of fact, most of the time he is the problem.posting gibberish, tons of it... mindless rants, worthless information... as a matter of fact merrill comes to mind as well...

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 11 months ago

Why would anyone really join the Chamber of Nothingness? REally, what is the advantage? Maybe a drink or two at the annual mixer? The Chamber never puts a black wreath on the businesss that fail. In fact, the Chamber office should have a black wreath on their own front door as a prelude to what is coming, if you involve the Chamber in your business plan.

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its_getting_warmer 5 years, 11 months ago

Cool: "yes i was a chamber member 2002 - 2006."'Nuff said. Obviously part of the problem.

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cool 5 years, 11 months ago

Barry Newton, Professor of Architecture at Kansas University will speak Saturday June 7, 10 am at the Lawrence Public Library (7th St. + Vermont) on "Other Oreads." Eight of his graduate students designed a hotel for the Oread site using exactly the same parameters as the developer. The LPA saw these drawings in March and responded amazingly favorably. After Newton's lecture, there will be question and answer session and the drawings will remain on exhibition until 6 pm that evening. Visual Tour of the Oread Demo: http://www.visualtour.com/shownp.asp?sk=13&t=1481271

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cool 5 years, 11 months ago

thank goodness that the State Board of Technical Professions determines who is a licensed architect and not IGW / 'ignorant is getting warmer'.

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cool 5 years, 11 months ago

goodbye IGW after this post i am just ignoring you.forum members should consider the source of rants -particuarly anonymous and annoying ones like yourself.

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cool 5 years, 11 months ago

IGW - knows just about zero of what he speaks of.yes i was a chamber member 2002 - 2006. so what ?as for IGW being able to determine who is a good architect - well that's about as likely as his posts being rational. Licensed architects with foreign or other credentials such as those of several university professors do not have strictly 'usa' degrees or credentials. IGW Ignominious Geek Wayfarer and an annoying forum member i hope to many of you with his 'distractions' and inaccurate posts.

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its_getting_warmer 5 years, 11 months ago

Cool was a member of the Chamber. We now know who scewed it up from the inside. Incompetent architects without architecture degrees should not be allowed to join the chamber.in the future.

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cool 5 years, 11 months ago

here here !Godot (Anonymous) says:Contrary to McClure's conclusion, the Chamber is not failing in its role of economic engine for Lawrence because it is private, it is failing because it began to operate as a quasi government agency. Remove the government from the chamber, and it will become a relevant economic development organization again.The city no proper role in defining a private organization like the Chamber. The city should withdraw all funding from the chamber, and the city shoulid remove itself entirely from economic development planning. It should establish strong zoning, fair and efficient office for issuing permits and doing inspections. It should never, ever, involve itself in approving whether a business can or cannot open in Lawrence unless that business violates existing zoning.No tax abatements or subsidies should be granted until a policy has been established that is fair and equitable and can be administered in the open.The more this city government involves itself in economic development activities, the worse the local business environment becomes.

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cool 5 years, 11 months ago

i also agree very much with Godot above !worth repeating !

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cool 5 years, 11 months ago

Big Prune is way off -- the Chamber is hardly captive of the progressive community in Lawrence.Look at which projects are moving ahead and evaluate how influential the chamber was in these projects:http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/apr/26/projects_revitalizing_sites_throughout_area/i agree with Kirk - planning for the entire community should not be mixed within a business advocacy groupsuch as the chamber.small start up companies and the physical structure that they need are not usually created by the tax abatement style plans of recent politicians or by the chamber.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 11 months ago

Don't fret. Not much will happen in Lawrence as long as the JW fails to oust the rascals in the Chamber who have hampered growth and also the neighborhood groups and LAN which have had nothing but a chokehold on this community not to menton the HRC. The city hall planning staff with the moles in the department don't help either. Lawrence will continue the status quo.

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Godot 5 years, 11 months ago

Contrary to McClure's conclusion, the Chamber is not failing in its role of economic engine for Lawrence because it is private, it is failing because it began to operate as a quasi government agency. Remove the government from the chamber, and it will become a relevant economic development organization again.The city no proper role in defining a private organization like the Chamber. The city should withdraw all funding from the chamber, and the city shoulid remove itself entirely from economic development planning. It should establish strong zoning, fair and efficient office for issuing permits and doing inspections. It should never, ever, involve itself in approving whether a business can or cannot open in Lawrence unless that business violates existing zoning.No tax abatements or subsidies should be granted until a policy has been established that is fair and equitable and can be administered in the open.The more this city government involves itself in economic development activities, the worse the local business environment becomes.

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BigPrune 5 years, 11 months ago

What the Chamber needs is a strong economic development leader who will turn a deaf ear to the complaining vocal Progressive minority who took a financially thriving community and put it in the poor house.The Chamber needs to regroup, weed out the non-business members and concentrate solely on ecomomic development without holding out an olive branch to the strung out old hippies who have run this great city into the ground.

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