Archive for Thursday, May 9, 2002

Chambers of commerce hope to foster development

May 9, 2002

Chambers of commerce exist to promote business so it's no surprise chamber leaders say that encouraging future growth is their top priority this year.

Whether it's forming a committee to coordinate growth or lobbying for tax reductions, area chambers of commerce are focused on expanding each city's commercial and industrial situations.

Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce president Robert Schuck said city officials, business owners and chamber members are forming an economic development advisory committee to more easily coordinate future plans.

The committee would work with Leavenworth Area Development and help bring continuity in promoting and encouraging growth, he said.

Schuck said the city's current industrial and commercial development climate is encouraging for the city.

"It seems like things are moving in the right direction," Schuck said.

In Bonner Springs, encouraging growth may become easier with the construction of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter at Kansas Avenue and Kansas Highway 7.

Bonner Springs Chamber of Commerce president Jeff Harrington, who also serves on the Bonner Springs City Council, said the new Wal-Mart could encourage other businesses to move to the city.

"It seems large developments spur other commercial interests in the area," Harrington said.

"I know a lot of people are looking forward to the new Wal-Mart," he added.

Harrington said the Bonner Springs area is enjoying a growth period and said he thought it would continue.

"I think we have a lot of potential for development in Bonner Springs and Edwardsville," he said. "I think we're well-prepared with what commercial, industrial and residential developments need."

The cities of Leavenworth and Lansing want small businesses to move to those cities, and the competition to get them is fierce, said Jim Kluender, president of Leavenworth/Lansing Chamber of Commerce.

So, Kluender said his chamber would continue to lobby state and local leaders for reductions in business property taxes.

"The more they can hold down taxes, the more it helps," Kluender said.

On Dec. 15, the city of Basehor lost the majority of its businesses when a fire destroyed a shopping complex at 155th Street and U.S. Highway 24-40.

The fire left Basehor without a grocery store.

The Basehor Chamber of Commerce is encouraging businesses to move to the city.

"We think that Basehor needs more commercial development," said Kathi Bontrager, Basehor Chamber of Commerce president.

Bontrager said a new sewer interceptor line running south and east of the city should spur the much-needed development. She said the project, along with the city's proximity to Kansas City and the Kansas Speedway, make Basehor a prime location for businesses.

"We think (the city) is very marketable," she said. "With the racetrack and the business it is bringing, as well as our proximity to Kansas City, Basehor should be more attractive to residents which will in turn make it more attractive to businesses."

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