September 2, 2011
Warrensburg Daily Star Journal
Sue Sterling, Staff Writer
Warrensburg – Johnson County Economic Development Corp. task forces identified projects to draw business and industrial prospects to the county. Gilbert Powers, board liaison to the Infrastructure and Development Task Force, said members determined a state-certified site "that has all the footwork done" is a priority. That includes environmental studies, infrastructure and prices.
"That will entail some funds," he told the EDC on Wednesday. He said the task force will recommend to the board a site, estimate costs and offer a plan to proceed with certification. EDC Executive Director Tracy Brantner said the county's Shamrock Business Park on Highway 50 West qualifies, but lacks utilities. She said the task force will form a subcommittee to study that and other sites.
"When prospects come, if we have something that's already met standards – it says a lot," EDC President Dee Hudson said. Powers said having a certified site "says we are aggressive and open for business."
Board members also need to ensure they are "educated about the product" and the community, he said.
The task force continues to focus on the Johnson County Innovation District. The district is along the Highway 50 corridor between Centerview and the Warrensburg East Loop, Powers said. The grant application to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for funding a feasibility study is about 75 percent complete, he said, with the receipt of letters of support from stakeholders.
Charlie Rutt, board liaison for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Task Force, said stakeholders Tuesday determined a better definition is needed for "business friendly." He said the present definition is "nebulous in some ways."
Hudson said the task force also needs to have a well-defined and well-developed incentive package and "everyone needs to know what it is." Rutt said the task force will focus on what businesses consider business friendly, and an incentive package to offer prospects.
Hudson said the Partnership Task Force has focused on visiting smaller communities in the county and "all are on board with what we're trying to do." She said the task force has provided information on what ECD is doing and seeks information on what communities want from the organization.
Brantner said a Major Employers Roundtable at EnerSys provided good feedback for the Business Development Task Force. She said major employers want quarterly meetings with tours of local manufacturing facilities.
The roundtable did not draw representatives from smaller communities, she said. The task force wants to hold a business retention and expansion event for those communities. Hudson said big industries want to "see what's happening" locally.
"If we can identify (existing) complementary business or industry, we're more likely to get them," she said.