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Archive for Friday, October 23, 2009

City readies for new growth

Conference focuses on economic opportunities

Economic experts spoke at a conference about the struggling economy. About 100 people gathered to learn about what the Kansas economic future might look like.

October 23, 2009

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Experts say Kansas is poised to foster economic growth through advancements in energy, bioscience, transportation and agriculture.

And Lawrence is poised to feed the economic engine.

“The Lawrence community and the University of Kansas are right in the middle of all that,” said Tom Kern, president of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, after attending Thursday’s Kansas Economic Policy Conference at Kansas University. “These are things we can continue to build on. We have the right tools in the toolbox, and we need to start using those tools in the toolbox.”

Kern joined about 100 educators, business leaders, economic development officials and others to attend the annual conference organized by KU’s Institute for Policy and Social Research. This year’s theme — The Kansas Economy: 2015 — encouraged speakers to look ahead at trends, demographics and opportunities for the state and its residents.

Various panels, presentations and speakers emphasized that while some of the state’s largest industries remained under pressure and susceptible for shrinkage in the near future, some focus areas were blessed with the best chances for expansion.

Donna Ginther, director of the institute’s Center for Economic and Business Analysis, said that while manufacturing, finance, information, retail and construction were poised for retrenchment, several other areas appeared good candidates for building economic momentum.

“The future needs to be more balanced,” she said, “and our new investments in bioscience, transportation and alternative fuels hopefully will be the future of economic growth for the state of Kansas.”

David Vranicar, president of Heartland BioVentures for the Kansas Bioscience Authority, reported that the authority was working to pump $50 million into venture capital efforts, which would be expected to add at least $200 million more to bioscience investments in the state.

Bob Honea, director of KU’s Transportation Research Institute, outlined the university’s ongoing efforts to create unmanned aerial vehicles, improve the efficiency and safety of road construction, and create fuel-efficient propulsion systems.

And Greg Krissek, director of government affairs for ICM Inc., discussed the rising potential for production of alternative fuels — whether it’s the ethanol his company makes using Kansas crops, or the biodiesel and other efforts under way at KU.

In the end, a large segment of all the data and trends and forecasts discussed Thursday managed to follow what Kern had been thinking all along.

Now all the efforts to open a technology and commercialization center in cooperation with KU, the push to land new business at Lawrence Municipal Airport and the work to grow sustainable-agriculture opportunities in the region sound even better, he said, as they all fit within the big picture of the state’s economy.

“We’re going in the right direction,” Kern said.

Comments

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

What does the Chamber of Commerce have on it's mind for OUR tax dollars? Grab your wallets!

Taxpayers are over loaded because of:

  • high dollar(20 million) USD 497 sports facilities with no way to generate $20 million. 76% of Taxpayers were not in favor of this spending( http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/may/should_city_spend_20_million_or_more_play_project/ )

  • high dollar park department project aka Clinton Lake Regional Park($15-20 million). No real cost has been attached to this ongoing project.

  • Lawrence Retail Market is substantially over saturated thus causing Economic Displacement(limited number of retail dollars spread too thin) rather than Economic Growth

*31st street expansion

  • airport expansion

  • $88 million sewage plant

======================================================================== By Kim McClure July 24, 2009

To the editor: The July 14 editorial asks, “What’s downtown going to look like five, 10 or 15 years from now?” The answer can be known, and the picture is not pretty.

Lawrence has enough spending to support about 4.1 million square feet of retail space, but the City Commission permitted developers to expand the supply to over 5.5 million square feet.

Lawrence has too much retail space chasing too few vendors, which means that many stores go empty, especially in the older shopping centers like downtown.

The surplus development has stalled redevelopment plans downtown and has pushed the vacancy rates so high that disinvestment and blight now threaten. Investment, both public and private, is wasted. The taxpayers’ $8 million parking garage stands largely empty. The Hobbs-Taylor building and the 600 block of Massachusetts should be the top performing spaces in the community, but they have significant vacancies.

The recession has contributed to the problem, but had we properly managed our growth we would be much better off.

The developers’ short-term gain is now our long-term loss. Managed growth would have prevented much of the problem and would have protected and enhanced our downtown.

It will take many, many years to absorb this surplus space and, until this happens, it will be hard for downtown to compete. We can only look forward to many years of high vacancy and disinvestment. We need a City Commission that knows how to pace the growth of supply so as to protect our unique downtown.

McClure is from Lawrence
http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/jul/24/retail-space/?letters_to_editor ======================================================================== It is also reflected in the ongoing destruction of the downtown and the business district. This would be obvious to any newcomer. The current business trend is restoring downtown business districts. Lawrence,Kansas certainly does not need more bar/grill situations. More and more institutions of alcohol will send the wrong message to young people.

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Richard Heckler 5 years ago

There seems to be a lot missing from this article.

The people trying to attract new tenants for over built retail locations are the same people who might put new tenants out business by bringing in new competition which will continue to flood the retail markets = not good for business or taxpayers.

The “mismanagement growth team” is only interested in more and more new locations. They are not interested in maintaining strong performing markets. This is unfriendly to existing business,new business AND taxpayers across the board.

Overbuilt retail is not compatible with profit = not good for business

Over built residential is not compatible with maintaining strong property values.

Over built light industrial = not good for business or tax dollar generation.

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Richard Heckler 5 years ago

To the editor:

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 Professor http://lawrencesmartgrowth.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_archive.html

Teaching and Research Interests

* Housing Affordability, Community Development, Real Estate Development

Academic Areas

* Urban Planning

Areas of Expertise

* Housing:  Affordable housing programs and finance
* Real estate development:  Market anaysis, project feasiblity

Courses Taught

* UBPL 710, Introduction to Housing Policy
* UBPL 714, Local Economic Development Planning
* UBPL 742, Quantitative Methods II
* UBPL 764, Real Estate Development Planning

Education * B. Arch., U. of Kansas, 1973 * B. A, Urban Studies, U. of Kansas, 1974 * Master of City Planning, M.I.T., 1978 * Ph.D., City Planning, U. of California, Berkeley, 1985

Awards * Urban Affairs Association Award for Best Paper Presented, 2004. Annual Conference of the Urban Affairs Association.

  • Jack and Nancy Bradley Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1997, School of Architecture and Urban Design, University of Kansas, 1997

Studies: Pace of Growth Study 2008

  Lawrence Retail Market Conditions 2007

  Housing Affordability in Lawrence

  Housing Growth and Decline in the Neighborhoods of Lawrence

  Growth and Change in the Workforce of Lawrence Kansas

  Retail Market Growth Report to City 1998

  Housing Needs in Kansas 2003

  Letter to City Commission on Wal-Mart 3-25-03

Links to studies: http://www.sadp.ku.edu/People/UBPLFaculty/KirkMcClure/MCClureK.shtml

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Boston_Corbett 5 years ago

Has anyone noticed the irony that a certain person who carries the last name "Heckler" may have been accurately described on his birth certificate?

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Flap Doodle 5 years ago

Internal combustion lawnmowers contribute to global warming. Ban lawnmowers!

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Richard Heckler 5 years ago

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

Weed out the city hall “Free Lunch” program that which demands far far too much from WE the taxpayers:

Here’s what happens. And this is a good example of where the news media hasn’t done a good job. I have tons of news clips that say, oh, this new shopping mall is coming or a new Wal-Mart or a new Cabela’s store, and thanks to tax increment financing, this store is going to be built. Well, what is tax increment financing? I’ll tell you what it is. You go to the store with your goods, you pay for it at Wal-Mart, and there’s a very good chance that that store has made a deal with the government that the sales taxes you are required to pay, that government requires you to pay, never go to the government. Instead, those sales taxes are kept by Wal-Mart and used to pay the cost of the store. And typically in those deals, the store is tax exempt, just like a church.

Now, there are two ways that it’s important to think about this. One is, that means your kid’s schools, your police department, your library, your parks are not getting that money. And you’ll notice we keep saying we’re starved for money. We’re twice as wealthy as we were in 1980, but we’ve got to close hospitals, and we’ve got to close schools, and we don’t have money for all sorts of things like after-school programs, even though we’re twice as wealthy. The second thing to think about is, imagine that you own Amy Goodman’s or Juan’s department store across the street. You suddenly have to compete with people whom the government is giving a huge leg up on. You think you would go broke after a while? Well, in fact, you will.

And I tell about a man named Jim Weaknecht who owned a little store in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. He sold fishing tackle, hunting gear, stuff like that. And the way he made his living in his little tiny store, enough that he was able to have his wife stay at home and raise their three kids full time, was by charging less than a company called Cabela’s. Well, then Cabela’s came to town. This little city of 4,000 people made a deal to give Cabela’s $36 million to build a store. That’s more than the city budget for that town for ten years. It’s $8,000 for every man, woman, and child in that town to have this store. And even though he charged lower prices, he was pretty quickly run out of business.

That’s not market capitalism, which is what Ronald Reagan said he was going to bring us. He said, you know, government’s the problem, we need markets as a solution. Well, that’s not the market. That’s corporate socialism. And what we’ve gotten is corporate socialism for the politically connected rich—not all the rich, the politically connected rich—and market capitalism for everybody else.

Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)” http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

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puddleglum 5 years ago

i thought we could just build more houses and more wal-marts and get out the depression that way. :(

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Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Remove It and They Will Disappear

Excerpted from an article by STPP'S Jill Kruse in the March 1998 Progess.

Flying in the face of conventional wisdom, a British study released this month is creating a buzz in transportation circles by concluding that closing roads can actually reduce driving. The research team analyzed 60 cases worldwide where roads were either closed or capacity was reduced.

On average 20 percent of the traffic vanished, but in some cases an astonishing 60 percent disappeared. Where does the traffic go? Transportation planning models assume that it shifts onto other roads, causing congestion elsewhere. But experts now say that in many cases it actually does disappear.

An earlier British report went a step further, prompting experts to conclude that closing roads in city centers can actually boost local economies by creating jobs downtown and that, conversely, new roads can lead to job loss downtown.

The U.S. equivalent of the expert British research teams, a panel convened by the Transportation Research Board, excluded empirical evidence on reduced travel from its 1995 "Expanding Metropolitan Highways" report, ignoring several compelling stories: The demise of San Francisco's Embarcadero Freeway, toppled in the '89 earthquake, and the city's Central Freeway, torn down in 1995, were predicted to cause gridlock, but didn't.

When New York City's Westside Highway collapsed in 1973, 53 percent of trips disappeared. And when citizens in Portland, Oregon replaced their Harbor Drive freeway with a waterfront park there was no traffic chaos. Moreover, San Francisco's waterfront is now booming with residential and commercial activity and Portland's downtown has become a highly desirable location.

For a free copy of "Traffic Impact of Highway Capacity Reductions" contact Environmental Media Services at 202-463-6670.

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hipper_than_hip 5 years ago

More warehouse jobs will lead Lawrence to prosperity! Forget the high-tech, the research, or the white collar jobs.

Forklift and delivery truck drivers will be the new kings of the Lawrence economic engine.

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Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Does Widening Roads Cause Congestion?

"We cannot tackle our traffic problems by building new roads."

Excerpted from D. Chen's "If You Build It They Will Come"

(Surface Transportation Policy Project's March 1998 Progress Newsletter)

"If you build it, they will come" is a reassuring slogan if you're building a baseball field. But for the highway engineer, it's a disaster. The fact that so many new roads get congested so quickly has long baffled road builders trying to ease gridlock. This phenomenon -- often called "induced traffic" -- is well-known to the transportation sector. Studies on induced traffic in the U.S. date back to the 1940s, and it is now widely acknowledged that building more roads does not relieve congestion.

Across the Atlantic, the British government is reinventing its transport policy after an expert panel found that while expanded road capacity enables vehicles to travel faster, time savings are lost because people drive more -- results that prompted UK Transport Minister Gavin Strang to conclude that "We cannot tackle our traffic problems by building new roads."

However, the idea of induced traffic has never gained currency in the U.S., where many transportation planners still work under the Eisenhower-era assumption that travel and vehicle use increase only with population and economic growth and not because of reduced travel times or cost. This is partly because early research was unable to differentiate between new traffic induced by expanded capacity and redistributed traffic or traffic caused by changes in land use.

But empirical research has improved, and new studies designed to make those differences clear have also found that new roads generate new traffic. Even the Federal Highway Administration found in a recent study in Milwaukee that induced traffic accounted for 11-22 percent of the area's increased traffic from 1963 to 1991.

Their findings showed an even greater induced traffic effect on the regional scale than on individual highway segments because when drivers perceive an increase in either travel time or cost they typically cope by altering travel routes, traveling at a different time or traveling less.

When road capacity is expanded near congested routes the opposite happens -- drivers far and wide flock to the new facility hoping for reduced travel times, thereby increasing the total amount of traffic in the region.

U.S. Transportation officials have failed to apply these findings, and evidence of induced traffic is rarely used in travel modeling, where it would have a big impact on deciding whether a project gets built.

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BigPrune 5 years ago

Merrill and his partners in crime ruined our city just a few years ago with all their restrictions and control.

In order for our city to turn around, we must first fire the City Manager, then the new City Manager needs to fire everyone in the Planning Department. Then the new planning department needs to burn Horizon 2020. Horizon 2020 has been outdated since it rolled off the presses and it needs to go if Lawrence will ever turn around. Then, they need to start charging the college students a transient tax to pay for all our roads and infrastructure they destroy. Then, the City needs to get ballsy and start doing things without KU in mind.

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BigPrune 5 years ago

The new City Hall employees need to have a litmus test - capitalists only.

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fairplay 5 years ago

Merrill cut-copy-and pasted: Kirk McClure, Lawrence Professor http://lawrencesmartgrowth.blogspot.c

Teaching and Research Interests

  • Housing Affordability, Community Development, Real Estate Development

Academic Areas

  • Urban Planning

Areas of Expertise

  • Housing: Affordable housing programs and finance
  • Real estate development: Market anaysis, project feasiblity

Courses Taught

  • UBPL 710, Introduction to Housing Policy
  • UBPL 714, Local Economic Development Planning
  • UBPL 742, Quantitative Methods II
  • UBPL 764, Real Estate Development Planning

Education B. Arch., U. of Kansas, 1973 B. A, Urban Studies, U. of Kansas, 1974 Master of City Planning, M.I.T., 1978 Ph.D., City Planning, U. of California, Berkeley, 1985

Awards * Urban Affairs Association Award for Best Paper Presented, 2004. Annual Conference of the Urban Affairs Association.

  • Jack and Nancy Bradley Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1997, School of Architecture and Urban Design, University of Kansas, 1997

Studies: Pace of Growth Study 2008

Lawrence Retail Market Conditions 2007

Housing Affordability in Lawrence

Housing Growth and Decline in the Neighborhoods of Lawrence

Growth and Change in the Workforce of Lawrence Kansas

Retail Market Growth Report to City 1998

Housing Needs in Kansas 2003

Letter to City Commission on Wal-Mart 3-25-03

ACTUAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS -- NONE.

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quimby 5 years ago

this commentary is out of control. lawrence needs economic growth, but it also needs a healthy environment and high quality of life. let's focus on that and how to achieve that, as opposed to infighting amongst ourselves. the argument doesn't have to be widdled down to "growth" or "no growth". we're going to grow, regardless - we just need to do it right and protect what we already have.

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hipper_than_hip 5 years ago

Maybe they should fix the streets as an incentive to get business to move here. 31st street is crap.

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unelectable 5 years ago

Why is growth the goal?

Why not stability and sustainability?

How many of you think this town was a nicer, safer, more comfortable place to live 15, even 10 years ago?

Growth is not a valid goal itself.

Never-ending growth is a dangerous dream that is not possible.

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