There's more than soybeans growing in the area around North Lawrence these days. There's a handful of construction projects as well, but at least one of them is attributable to soybeans.
Officials with DuPont Pioneer Seed have filed plans with the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department to build a 9,600-square-foot addition onto their soybean research facility at 1451 N. 1823 Road. For those of you who don't keep up on the location of soybean research facilities, that is in the Maple Grove Industrial Park, which is next to the Maple Grove Cemetery, or just north of the Tee Pee Junction. (I just realized that I'm giving directions like I'm a character in the Andy Griffith show. The park is just north of the intersection of U.S. Highway 24/40 and North Third Street.)
The facility researches and develops new varieties of soybeans for Kansas and western Missouri. A spokeswoman with DuPont Pioneer said the expansion is primarily to house equipment for the soybean research, which might be a way of saying that it will be a machine shed for tractors, plows and other such farm equipment that may have been stored outside in the past. The spokeswoman said no new employees are expected to be added as part of the expansion.
But I thought I would mention the project anyway because it is an example of a research and development company — a Fortune 500 one no less — that has a significant presence in Lawrence but keeps a pretty low profile. The company has been in Lawrence since 2007 and in that time has grown from two employees to 10.
The DuPont Pioneer spokeswoman said a timetable for construction of the building hasn't yet been set, but the project this week did receive site plan approval from the Douglas County Commission.
While we're talking about industrial parks, keep your ears open for an announcement about the former Farmland Industries site that is being converted into a 400-plus-acre industrial park.
No, I don't believe a big announcement related to a new company is pending. But instead, I hear city officials are very close to announcing an official name for the business park. That may seem like a small thing, but I've heard from various sources that it actually has been a bit cumbersome that the park hasn't been named yet. City officials want to be in a position to start offering spaces to new tenants later this year or early next year, which means heavy duty marketing of the park needs to be underway now. The lack of a name and logo has made it difficult to develop all the slick brochures, Web sites and other such materials that go along with a full-fledged marketing campaign.
I'll let you know when I hear the name. Or I suppose they could just go with the Andy Griffith method, in which case, the brochures would read: The old fertilizer plant out there across from the jail, kind by where H.Z. Smith has his salvage yard.
As I said, I'll let you know when they come up with a name.