Have a say
When: 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday
Where: Lawrence High School cafeteria, 1901 La.
What: Public invited to participate in small-group discussions regarding employment conditions in Lawrence, and to help shape creation of a community job-growth strategy.
Who: Event sponsors are the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, city of Lawrence, Lawrence Journal-World and the Lawrence-Douglas County chapter of the League of Women Voters.
Sauer-Danfoss’ decision to close its Lawrence manufacturing plant next year is helping drive a push to generate a community economic-development strategy.
And some of the most important work starts next week.
Thursday evening, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and its partners will convene a Community Forum on Job Growth, an event designed to collect the public’s ideas about how the community should proceed when it comes to attracting new companies to town, encouraging existing ones to expand and otherwise build a reliable pipeline of reliable employment.
And in case anyone needs a reminder of the importance of jobs, look no further than the recent announcement that 100 people soon will be losing their jobs at one of the more stable employers in the East Hills Business Park, said Tom Kern, chamber president and CEO.
“One of the things that this current economic recession has made people aware of is that even Lawrence isn’t immune,” Kern said. “The (approaching) closure of the Sauer-Danfoss facility is an unfortunate example of a fact that the recession is real, and that without sustainable job growth — over a long period of time — communities can’t exist.”
Thursday’s event will allow regular folks to hear about the city’s economic conditions and employment statistics from city officials, then gather for discussions in small groups.
Their task: Identify assets that Lawrence can build upon when it comes to job growth and then compile a list of liabilities that may be holding the community back.
“We’ll ask people to help us solution-build,” Kern said. “From a person working at the Amarr Garage Doors facility to a nurse at the hospital, we want everyone to come.”
The work will lead to development of a list of priorities, to help shape how the community can seek out, foster and generate job creation, Kern said.
“This isn’t a consultant coming in from out of town and telling us what we should do or not do,” Kern said. “It’s really ourselves asking ourselves these questions and kind of coming up with some of the answers ourselves — and then building an economic-development strategy based upon what people want, versus what someone tells us we should do.”