Archive for Monday, August 24, 2009

Douglas County designated as recovery zone, which should boost economy

Flight instructor Erik Torrez and pilot Iana Skoda, Topeka, walk across the tarmac Monday at Lawrence Municipal Airport. City leaders are looking to use federal stimulus dollars to finance a new water line to the airport.

Flight instructor Erik Torrez and pilot Iana Skoda, Topeka, walk across the tarmac Monday at Lawrence Municipal Airport. City leaders are looking to use federal stimulus dollars to finance a new water line to the airport.

August 24, 2009


Douglas County named 'recovery zone'

Douglas County is now designated as an economic recovery zone. Enlarge video

Douglas County is now a recovery zone.

But the Federal Emergency Management Agency won’t be coming to Lawrence to help with aftermath of a flood or tornado.

Instead, the County Commission on Monday took the step because of the economic recession — mainly the 6.1 percent unemployment rate and decreasing property values.

The designation gives local businesses and governments access to low-interest bonds through federal stimulus legislation aimed at spurring economic development.

Local economic development leaders said the financing tool would lower payments for businesses wanting to start some type of project.

“This might tip you into the we-can-afford-it category,” said Roger Zalneraitis, Lawrence’s economic development coordinator.

County commissioners said the bonds would allow local businesses to put people back to work either through expansion or construction projects.

The county and cities within the county have authority to allocate $11.7 million in bonds for private development projects aimed at creating or retaining jobs. An additional $7.8 million in bonds can be used to finance public projects, like extending infrastructure to help attract new businesses to the area.

One specific project already mentioned is the city’s plan to extend water and sewer services to the Lawrence Municipal Airport in North Lawrence. City leaders have said the extension was needed to accommodate potential aviation-oriented businesses, which might want to relocate or expand there.

During their 6:35 p.m. meeting Wednesday, county commissioners will consider allocating $2 million to the city from the public bonds to finance the airport improvements.

Zalneraitis said the public bonds could also provide funding for job-training programs.

The bonds to support private development projects would be used to finance construction of new facilities for businesses or expansion for companies already in the county.

“Those are things that I would really like to see those bonds be used for,” said Beth Johnson, vice president for economic development for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

Economic development officials are also now on the clock to put the bonds to use because the Kansas Department of Commerce might recapture any funds not allocated by July 1, 2010. But County Commissioner Jim Flory said he expected private and public entities to try to take advantage of the favorable interest rates the bonds carry.


lmb 8 years, 9 months ago

What do these bonds have to do with FEMA? This article doesn't make any sense. Please explain yourself.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 9 months ago

"What do these bonds have to do with FEMA?"

Nothing-- and that's the point that was being made.

laika 8 years, 9 months ago

Usually when a county is declared a disaster or recovery zone, it is a signal that FEMA is going to move in to aid with recovery. So I take it to be a play on words. Obviously there has not been a major natural disaster in the area.

Daniel Davidson 8 years, 9 months ago

If some of the money could be used to build a new industrial site for Berry Plastics to countinue its growth to help further the growth of jobs in lawrence that would be great. Berry has a great opertunity for growth but no where to grow to. So start building now please.

gphawk89 8 years, 9 months ago

So far, economic stimulus money has spurred development of a noisy new highway a half mile from my house and paid for some extremely sloppy and unneeded repairs to the streets and sidewalks in my neighborhood. My property has probably been devalued several thousand dollars so far by stimulus money.

Time to say it again: Obama, you freakin idiot...

salad 8 years, 9 months ago

^ Highway construction = KDOT local street construction = DG county or City of Lawrence

Unless you can prove they specifically used stimulus money to start a project not already slated, or that they wouldn't have done anyway, then you're tilting at windmills. As for your property, it's money that, unless you have it in your hand, doesn't exist. Plus, street improvement increase your value, so STFU.

Time to say it again: gphawk89, you freakin idiot… -fixed

ralphralph 8 years, 9 months ago

This'll really shake things up! A brand new ... water line? That'll put Larryville way ahead of the curve on the next ... aviation boom? (like, maybe, 25 years ahead). Really? A water line to the airport is it? Well, at least it gets paid for with pretend money from Washington that nobody ever, ever, ever has to pay back. Right?

avoice 8 years, 9 months ago

Considering that Kansas is not losing as many jobs as many states (such as Missouri), and the jobless rate in Douglas County as quoted in this article is about 2% better than the overall Kansas percentage, does that mean that every county that is faring more poorly has also been designated as a "recovery zone"? This is the first I've heard of any plan to designate the economic crisis as an actual disaster, on a par with hurricanes, floods and category 4-5 tornadoes!

LadyJ 8 years, 9 months ago

The city is using stimulus money to put in a sidewalk and retaining wall for about 3 families that go to Cordley and want to walk on 18th because they don't “like” to walk on 19th or 17th street were there are already sidewalks. It is only one block long between Kentucky and Tennessee and then up on Ohio a sidewalk from 18th to the park. A sidewalk cannot be put in between Tennessee and Louisianna and the school is not planning to put one in between Vermont and Kentucky. Cordley sits on 19th and that street is the obvious route, but "they don't like it, it's too dangerous" even though junior high and high schoolers use it. You would think grown adults could manage. Even if it is grant or stimulus money there are other places that need sidewalks more. Schwegler kids have no sidewalks on side streets and are expected to cross Iowa. East Lawrence could use sidewalks for kids in many places. The city removed the school zone and pedestrian crossing behind Cordley because there was too few pedestrians, but these too few pedestrians need a sidewalk. Does this seem right?

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