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Annexing an industrial site west of Lawrence would help expand the city’s economic development offerings.

July 7, 2011


The recent announcement that the Mars candy company would build a $250 million manufacturing plant in Topeka has drawn attention again to the scarcity of large industrial sites in and around Lawrence.

On the heels of that announcement, Lawrence city commissioners have taken the positive step of asking the Douglas County Commission to review a request for the city to annex a 67-acre site near the Kansas Turnpike’s Lecompton interchange. County Commission review is required before the city can proceed with annexing the property.

The 67-acre site is adjacent to two other sites already zoned for industrial use with some restrictions. Although various issues concerning the extension of city services to those sites must be resolved, they at least provide some bigger acreage that can be marketed to prospective businesses.

Their proximity to the Kansas Turnpike also is a huge asset. Easy access to a four-lane interstate highway was one of the base requirements for the Mars project, according to local economic development officials. The company also was looking for a site of at least 80 to 150 acres with infrastructure in place. The only site Lawrence offered for consideration was an 87-acre site just east of the East Hill Business Park. However, flooding concerns would have had to be addressed at that site, and its location near Kansas Highway 10 didn’t fill the desire for interstate highway access.

Of course, Topeka also reportedly offered a $9 million incentive package to the Mars company using revenue from a special local sales tax to fund economic development. That’s a figure Lawrence isn’t likely to match any time soon.

Nonetheless, even to get in the ball game Lawrence must have sites available that match the basic size and access requirements of potential new business. Moving forward on the annexation request helps expand the site options that local economic development officials can market.

The city-county planning staff indicated in a report to city commissioners this week that the annexation request is supported by various key planning documents. Seeking the County Commission’s review is just a first step, but a positive one toward boosting the city’s marketability to potential new businesses.


lunacydetector 6 years, 7 months ago

there is no way lawrence would get a chance at a $250 million plant and $40K year jobs without incentives, but incentives are always off the table when it comes to lawrence.....something about 'corporate welfare,' snicker. KU might be a massively subsidized government creation that doesn't contribute to the property tax base and pays very low wages, and takes up the prime land of town, but that's different......right. or so we're told by so-called KU 'experts.'

somebodynew 6 years, 7 months ago

One other thing this article failed to mention was the part where they needed railroad access also. The proposed area (or any of them out that way) are not anywhere near a railroad acess. And lunacy is correct - I can just hear the wailing IF the idea of that amount of incentives were offered here.

hipper_than_hip 6 years, 7 months ago

We had rail access to industrial areas in East Lawrence, but the City decided to turn it into a hike & bike trail instead. East Hills Business Park could have a rail spur, and there's at least two rail spurs going into Farmland. There's rail access in North Lawrence as well.

thefactsare 6 years, 7 months ago

But North Lawrence is off limits due to prime ag soils so no industrial will be seen in that area, even though it has access to every mode of transportation we have available....highway, rail and air.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 7 months ago

And the flood plain. The elevation is North Lawrence is very low. Development has to acknowledge the "bathtub principle." The more toys you put into the tub, the higher the water level.

kansasredlegs 6 years, 7 months ago

As a taxpayer, I am tired of the term "economic development" being associated with our taxing authorities' involvement. Name one private project in this town or county requiring our tax dollars that can be deemed a success. I can name a few that weren't: East Hills Business Park; the downtown TIF District (parking garage & muni court buildings) which Lawrencians paid $8.8M out of taxpayers' pockets so far and another 9 years at $800K per annum, and now the buzz word of the decade is "incubator." Deplorable, just down right deplorable.

These are all pipe dreams. The East Hills Business Park was opposed as I recall in a recent '25 years ago today' article noted. However, same glowing reasons from Gov'ment about the need etc. Also, the recent article about how the TIF didn't pan out the way it had been hoped. Oh, well we gave it the old college try and $8.8M later and another $11.2M to go. This was before any economic downturn so don't go there. Library money anyone?

Lawrence is a destination City and a City where people want to live, if you want handouts for your "economic development" relocation to our City, then move on, the City does not need you.

btw: How much in Gov'ment payola does Hallmark get Mr. Corliss, Mr. Flory?, Mr. Gaughan? Ms. Thellman? I'll answer that one for ya... Zero.

no_thanks 6 years, 7 months ago

Same old arrogant and ignorant thinking about growth in Lawrence. Lawrence is a destination City for kids attending the University, as we are not growing otherwise. Until this past decade, the City grew at a rate of about 10,000 people per decade (1970-2000). What did the last census show? Basically flat growth, meaning we are in decline, and our current policies will continue to lead us down that road. I hope you're good with that, because as the State pushes more costs (Medicaid, SRS, School, etc...) onto local governments, you will get the chance to feel the real pain of not being able to grow. And, please don't apply the TIF District for the parking garage and Muni Court Builiding as an investment in Economic Development. Clearly, those projects did not add new jobs in attracting a Company of any size to Lawrence. Finally, my guess is that if Hallmark were to expand, they would definitiely be asking for incentives. I wish Cities could compete on the merit of simply whtat the community has to offer, but that is not the case.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 7 months ago

Incentives are always a gamble. We cannot afford to give up the revenue for them. Our best bet is to maintain the quality of the community. If a business wants to locate here, they will be able to afford it and so will we.

Incentives policies are out of control. Promises are made and not kept. The jobs do not pay as they were promised, if they exist at all. And, the business could move on to the next community and that community's incentives.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Expanding more than the city cannot afford is not smart busiess.

The more the city annexes the more it cost the taxpayers.

Tanger Mall was quietly rezoned to light industrial so we have plenty.

Pork barrel anyone? How many on this chat can afford more local corporate welfare? Not me.

Just like the Lowe's deal. This is not about making Lawrence more attractive or creating new economic growth. This is more about making sure the same very few can unload their real estate no matter the impact on Lawrence taxpayers.

That Mar's deal cost taxpayers $9 million plus free land so now we're getting close to $10 million. That will take a long time to make up if at all. Duped again.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

What's missing from this debate on Pork Barrel?

Removing the large tax dollar subsidies to local very wealthy corporations across the board aka corporate welfare!

If all city and state governments plus the federal government would cut corporate welfare and invest this money in Improved Medicare Single Payer Insurance for ALL :

  1. many of us would be saving thousands of dollars annually

  2. big business and small business could operate for less

  3. all governments and school districts could cut operating expenses substantially

  4. employed blue and white collar workers would be healthier thus more productive

  5. all humans would have necessary healthcare 24/7

  6. in general OUR cost of living would decrease across the board

  7. New industry,small business and jobs would develop

Thus our tax dollars would be invested in our local communities providing a jump start to economic growth that has been squandered as one result of corp welfare.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 7 months ago

You know what? I'd swear that I saw this very same drivel copy/pasted onto another thread of this award-winning website today.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Tax subsidies are a fruitless venture:

They're back. Citigroup, Coca-Cola, IBM, Merck, and dozens of other major U.S. corporations are back in Washington – like hogs at the trough – demanding to be fed another tax boondoggle.

This is not the first pig-out for these oinkers. In 2005, having stashed huge profits in foreign countries and tax havens, the multinational giants came to Washington offering Congress a heck of a deal: We'll bring this money back to the U.S. and invest it here, creating beaucoup jobs, IF you give us a sweetheart tax rate on our profits of only about five percent, rather than the usual 35 percent rate.

The BUSHCO and GOP Congress enthusiastically took the bait. Sure enough, $312 billion came home... but instead of investing it in job creation, top executives and big shareholders simply put it in their pockets.

Sixty percent of the boondoggle was gobbled up by only 15 of America's biggest multinationals – many of which actually shut down American plants, fired thousands of workers, and moved more of their production abroad. Merck, for example brought nearly $16 billion home in October 2005, then announced a restructuring plan the next month to close U.S. plants and cut some 3,500 jobs. You could almost hear the executives chortle and say, "Thanks, suckers."

Well, look out, for a corporate lobbying front is working with Republican House leaders to sucker us again. The group includes such superrich computer giants as Apple, Dell, Google, and Intel, pushing for what they call a "repatriation holiday." With a big stage wink, they promise to create jobs in exchange for that same, dandy, five-percent tax deal.

What gross hoggishness! State and national budgets are being slashed – and these fat greedheads are trying to scam America with a tax holiday for themselves. To fight their greed, go to www.usuncut.org.

"Companies Push For A Tax Break On Foreign Cash," The New York Times, June 20, 2011.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

20 years of this plan proves that repubs are NOT the answer:

  1. The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist(Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion) http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  2. Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers under Bush/Cheney http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  3. Bush and Henry Paulson blew the $700 billion of bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

and that tax cuts do nothing to make an economy strong or produce jobs.

Still A Bad Idea – 8 years of Bush Tax Cuts - The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Is annexation expanding our tax base or our tax bills?

There is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - annexation is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Annexation is the result of over five decades of subsidies paid for by the American taxpayer. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads as well as smaller ones-like the tax-breaks that encourage businesses to move to the edge of town.

We've subsidized annexation at such a basic level for so long, that many people believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of developers and the local real estate industry.

But a few ways how WE TAXPAYERS subsidize annexation :

  • building new and wider roads
  • building schools on the fringe
  • extending sewer and water lines to new developments
  • extending emergency services to the fringe *direct pay-outs to developers aka tax dollar free rides

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