The headlines of 2019 were, as each year is, filled with reasons to feel down, including the deaths of community members, closure of beloved restaurants, longtime businesses, floods and shuttering of events. But 2019 also planted some seeds for the future and 2020.

Here are five things to look forward to in 2020:

 

1. Park Aerospace getting bigger

Park Aerospace, a company that develops and manufactures composite materials at the Newton City/County Airport, is expanding.

Both the Newton City Commission and Harvey County Commission approved agreements at the end of 2018 to allow an expansion of Park’s Newton campus to move forward. The company broke ground on the facility in 2019.

“This is one of the biggest industrial expansions we have had in the last 10 years," said Beth Shelton, director of the Harvey County Economic Development Council. "It is a huge deal. Since they were already here, it does not get the credit it deserves. It is like we won all over again. They are doubling their size and the capital investment is the same."

The expansion will include the construction of a redundant manufacturing facility located adjacent to Park’s existing facilities and will include about 90,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space. It will essentially double the size of Park’s existing Newton facilities.

The total cost of the expansion is expected to be about $19 million, and the expansion is expected to be completed in the first half of the 2020 calendar year. Projections show the company adding 73 employees to the current roster of 90 over the course of 10 years. Projects show an estimated $21.3 million in wages paid to new employees over the next 10 years.

 

2. Kansas Electric is growing

Tim Sweigart, owner of Kansas Electric, and his company have launched a unique apprenticeship program with Hutchinson Community College and taken a look at the company culture.

"Our growth is due to a philosophy change we have taken on," Sweigart said. "Instead of looking for big projects, we have evaluated the culture of our company. We can only grow if we have good employees. We have done a lot of things to enhance our work environment."

The company has grown by about 30%, and that is likely to continue in 2020.

"We have been steadily growing over the past few months and it continues to move forward in that direction," Sweigart said. "It is the culture and relationship with our employees that has led to this. ... It is a significant growth mode that we are in."

 

3. Sand Creek Station set for a big year

At this time a year ago, Sand Creek Station was preparing for the biggest tournament it would ever host — then in May and June the rains came and washed it all away.

But 2020 holds a lot of promise.

"In terms of bookings ... This will be one of the strongest years we have ever had," said Chris Tuohey, manager of Sand Creek Station. "Our outings are strong. We have a solid lineup, and we are excited."

That lineup will include NCAA Division I conference championships as both the men and women for the Summit League return.

And the second-year Ladies State Amateur will be at Sand Creek Station, drawing 80 players from the region.

KSHSAA's Boys Class 5A State is set to return — and be expanded.

"This is the first year that KSHAA has moved to a two-day championship,"  Tuohey said.

And then there is "The Railer," the Kansas Stroke Play Championship. The tournament birthed in Newton will mark its 10th anniversary. 

"It has drawn a solid field and we have players that come from outside the state of Kansas. We have had champs that have gone out and played professional golf," Tuohey said.

 

4. Growth on the horizon

Two commercial developments grew legs in 2019. Infrastructure for a commercial development at the intersection of I-135 and First Street was completed in 2019 and the lots are on the market.

The Occidental Project on S. Kansas Avenue, which languished for several years as developers and city officials hammered out a development agreement, is moving forward. In 2020, water lines will start going in.

 

5. The future of CJs

While the owners of CJ's Pancake House announced the closure of the business in September, the building sold at auction in December. The new owners will be working to reopen the business this year.