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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Commissioners ask for more information on KLP development

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  • Newton City Commissioners said they would like to hear more updates on progress at the Kansas Logistics Park, and they also would like to see the park’s development board take a more active role in the promotion of the park.?Commissioner Glen Davis said he would like to see more accountability on the city’s economic development efforts.?“It’s quite an investment,” he said of the logistics park. “… It’s good business to know what’s going on.”?Commissioner Ken Hall also said he would like to see more information so he could communicate more effectively with community members about what’s going on in the park.?He said while he was not criticizing the efforts of the Harvey County Economic Development Council, he did not think it was a good idea to have just one entity promoting the KLP.?“I feel we need to find a way to open this up to all sources to help market this park,” he said.?Davis thought the more entities involved in promoting the park, the better.?“We have a lot of local talent here, and they’ve got connections,” he said. “... Maybe they can bring something to the table. I just want to see some buildings go up out there, and see some jobs come to town.”?Hall suggested it was time for the Kansas Logistics Park Development Authority to evolve and take more of an active role in managing the park.?“That’s the group that needs to take this and work with marketing and be more of a manager,” he said. He would like to see both government officials and private businesses bring their expertise to the table.?Commissioner Jim Nickel said if additional sources outside the EDC are brought in to help with the development of the logistics park, the city likely will have to find a way to compensate them.?He also said economic development can be a sensitive process, and information can’t always be freely shared due to prospective companies’ requests for secrecy.?“It’s a confidentiality thing that they have,” he said. “By very nature, this EDC is very frustrating for those of us outside of the inner group of people.”?Hall said he appreciated this need for secrecy, and thought it might be beneficial if the commission could be given a general idea of the activity level at the park.?Ideas suggested included having the executive director of the Harvey County Economic Development Council appear before commissioners to give them regular updates.?City Attorney Bob Myers said he understood commissioners are hearing community members voice concerns about the park, and he said economic development can be a lengthy process.?He said work continues on the park’s infrastructure, which will make it a more viable and attractive site to companies.?“We had to build it, before they were going to come,” he said. “It’s not done yet.”?He also said national issues are tying up economic development.?“Everybody’s waiting on Congress to do something,” he said. “That’s a national issue, that’s not a Newton issue.”?He asked the community to stay the course and take a long-term view of the project.?“Let us get done what we set out to do in the first place,” he said, adding many industries are simply waiting for the right moment to make a move.?“They’ve got the money, they’ve got the plans,” he said. “They’re just waiting for the timing. … They want to see what the rules of the game are going to be.”?EDC board of directors president Dennis LeFevre said he welcomed the commission’s request for more accountability.?“We are not trying to hide or be secretive about the kind of work that (we) do,” he said.?While some prospects’ requests for confidentiality can restrict the amount of information that can be shared, he said it was a necessary part of the economic development process. Sometimes, the EDC itself doesn’t even know the names of the businesses it is recruiting. A company wishing to build a plant in the Midwest may hire a site selection company, who then contacts the EDC without disclosing who the client is.?“When companies are looking to locate to an area, confidentiality is key,” LeFevre said.
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