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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

City vows fairness on new council for economic development

May 8, 2012

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Lawrence city commissioners are open to creating a new consortium to manage economic development efforts in the community, but on Tuesday they vowed to address concerns by some neighborhood representatives that the group not be too heavily tilted to Lawrence Chamber of Commerce interests.

“There is still a lot to work out, but this absolutely represents a step in the right direction,” City Commissioner Aron Cromwell said.

Leaders with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce presented a proposal that would create a new “Joint Economic Development Council” that would be led by the Lawrence city manager, the Douglas County administrator and the president/CEO of the chamber.

But several representatives with neighborhood groups urged commissioners to proceed cautiously with the proposal and questioned whether a business advocacy organization like the chamber is well-suited to be the city’s lead agency on economic development matters.

“The Sierra Club is an advocacy group for environmental causes, but we don’t pay the Sierra Club to do our environmental planning,” said Kirk McClure, a Kansas University professor of urban planning.

As proposed, the new economic development council would have both a city and a county commissioner on it but also would include three positions appointed by the chamber CEO, in addition to the chamber’s chair of the board of directors.

City commissioners stopped short of saying the group ought to have representatives from area neighborhood associations, which some neighborhood leaders requested, but directed staff members to prepare a report that provided various scenarios related to membership structures.

Commissioners also asked staff members to respond to questions raised by the League of Women Voters, including whether the new organization would have the authority to enter into its own contracts, whether it would have the ability to spend tax dollars and what role it would play in setting policies related to economic development.

Mayor Bob Schumm said he expected the report would be completed in the next two to three weeks.

“We haven’t really unified our economic development efforts as well as we can,” Schumm said. “That’s why I’m doing this. I can assure you it is not to circumvent any public process.”

In other news, commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance that grants an exception to the city’s regulations regarding the housing of chickens. The new ordinance makes it clear that properly zoned retail establishments have the right to sell fowl as part of their operations.

Comments

CLARKKENT 2 years, 7 months ago

FAIRNESS, HOW, ARE WE GETTING A NEW COMMISSION???????

irvan moore 2 years, 7 months ago

so we have a chamber leader who has been in town about a month, corliss and wienaugh who are career government employees, a county commissioner and a city commissioner (what do you want to bet it will be cromwell), and 3 chamber picked positions. what could possibly go wrong?

lunacydetector 2 years, 7 months ago

the zero growth professor and the league of liberal women voters, the complaints are a smoke screen...they love this idea. two no growthers will be on the council with the city manager and county administrator. if the chamber goes back to the way it was just a few years ago when they promoted the anti business mantra of our local pony tailed weirdos, make it 3 no growthers.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 7 months ago

A hairdo hater, at that.

What's your opinion of the beehive? How about the pompadour?

lunacydetector 2 years, 7 months ago

saw an older woman just yesterday in her late '50's with a beehive and matching polyester top and slacks... had to google pompadour -guy or gal style?

lunacydetector 2 years, 7 months ago

i was here first. the pony tailed weirdos are young adults trapped in old men bodies. came here in the '60's and '70's, the pot connection was too good and the restaurant work/k.u. jobs were plentiful, so they never grew up.

JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 7 months ago

Try pointing your detector at yourself and check the reading. I bet it will register pretty high...

Richard Heckler 2 years, 7 months ago

Neighborhoods reps were right on the money.

In the past 30 years the Chamber thinkers aka bankers/developers/builders executives have provided:

  1. High tax dollar bedroom community that cannot pay for itself

  2. Over loaded retail market that is unfriendly to business and taxpayers

  3. Three failed major retail operations and pushing for a fourth on the river = supply is way up yet demand is down beyond reality

  4. More reasons for corporate tax dollar mooching than could ever be imagined

  5. the one consequence of helter skelter aimless growth that usually goes unmentioned by the local media,city hall and elected officials - local profiteers are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

NOT necessary city growth is the result of over several decades of subsidies paid for by the local 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 and KILL downtowns.

We've subsidized local profiteers 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 local profiteers driving development.

How we subsidize profiteers: building new and wider roads building schools on the fringe extending sewer and water lines to not necessary development extending emergency services to the fringe * direct pay-outs to developers

Flap Doodle 2 years, 7 months ago

What? You couldn't drag the Koch brothers into this somehow? I am disappoint. (from a source)

Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 7 months ago

Grow the beast. I wonder who's brother-in-law got this job. The answer is to clean house at city hall and get some new blood in there, many of which should be those who have tried to do business in this city and understand the non business attitude and the problems associated with starting a new business.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 7 months ago

Care to name a few of these failed business people who'd be good for the job?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 7 months ago

Would not be you Bozo.. Can't run a very good business from your moms basement.

Patricia Davis 2 years, 7 months ago

LarryNative, I agree with you. Except, I would say act like a big person city. Because I'm not a boy and approximately half of our city's population isn't either.

optimist 2 years, 7 months ago

"...a business advocacy organization like the chamber is well-suited to be the city’s lead agency on economic development matters."

Are you kidding me? Who comes up with this stuff? The Chamber is made up of business and non-business members. Its membership includes large, mid and small businesses and their employees (not business owners), non-profit agencies and their representative’s, educators, public employees, union members, and individual citizens. All of these people are community members the same as the so called “neighborhood groups”. The Chamber of Commerce is uniquely qualified to provide leadership on issues of "economic development". When I want to build a neighborhood I'll talk to the "neighborhood groups". Oh, wait. They'll likely tell me how to build it, what it has to look like, how big the houses can be, who can live there, what color it has to be, what materials I can use, how I have to heat and light it... and after conceding on almost all of their demands they’ll take me to court to prevent me from building it in the first place. I know, that sounds crazy; right? These so called neighborhood groups are nothing more than anti-growth activists. They certainly don't represent me and my interests at all and I’m betting that’s the case for many if not most people in the city and county.

Lawrence neighborhood groups- their claim to fame, they get in the way of progress more than anyone else.

optimist 2 years, 7 months ago

The complete paragraph I was responding to to put it in better context: "But several representatives with neighborhood groups urged commissioners to proceed cautiously with the proposal and questioned whether a business advocacy organization like the chamber is well-suited to be the city’s lead agency on economic development matters. "

scaramouchepart2 2 years, 7 months ago

This is Lawrence Ks, our neighborhoods are full of educated business, economic development, professors, scientist and so on. Who do you think lives in our neighborhoods ? They have an education equal with less bias to the chamber few who speak for a business whether they pay to be represented by the chamber. In determining what kinds of jobs best suit Lawrence the chamber is automatically biased on any statistical data study . For instance, they are concerned with manufacturing business, which they claim we as a community do not have enough people with training for those jobs. Why is the chamber not promoting actively for business, which support Lawrence's job skills like Johnson county does. By the way everyone can be active in their neighborhood with no fee or very little. So if you do not feel you are represented by your neighborhood it is not their fault.

pace 2 years, 7 months ago

I know it is not popular to give labor a seat at the table, but they deserve one. They want jobs and have practical understanding of what a factory or business can do for jobs. ( So if I say the word Union, may the ghosts of labor haters forgive me). The government is more interested in increasing the tax base, which is a legitimate goal. The chamber seems to have an honest interest and expertise but their own bias. YES broaden the scope of the committee. Or to put it bluntly the chamber already gets too much tax money and say, level that field a bit. I think the University has brought a lot of business to this town and if we can tap some of their expertise and influence it could serve as well, But too big a group could get mired in committee morass. So best of luck to the Commissioners to get a working group.

softsun 2 years, 7 months ago

Wow - merrill, beatnik, pace, eagle, cheesburger - Great discussion. Thanks!

softsun 2 years, 7 months ago

Merrill points out Lawrence and Douglas County taxpayers already contribute over $500,000 annually to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, an amount greater than the dues of the Chambers own membership! Chamber membership has decreased from over 1,100 to less than 825. Cheeseburger points out the revolving door at the CEO office of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, could be a signal of a need for the Chamber to explain its role and relevance. "Gone are the days when just being in the Chamber was reason enough to belong." Today's world holds a multitude of business specific specialty organizations competing for busy people with packed agendas and demands on their time. Taxpayers, Mayors and Commissioners along with members are asking, "what am I getting for my money?" Where is the return on investment. "What are we Tax Payers getting for the over $500,000 the Chamber already receives annually from Douglas County and the City of Lawrence?" and now they want to cartwheel into another local sales tax the political and appointed can cut up for those closest to the trough. No wonder neighborhood groups, Lawrence and Douglas County Taxpayers want to proceed with caution as they uncover they already pay more to operate the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce than Chamber members themselves!

repete66211 2 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, get community leaders involved in the economic development committee. Do so and the social workers will spend 90% of the time on group hugs & airing of perceived grievances and 10% of the time on how to invest money in fiscally unsound money pits.

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