Archive for Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Eco devo official optimistic about potential of region

November 23, 2004

A Kansas economic development expert last week challenged area officials to continue laying the groundwork to attract new businesses to Leavenworth County.

In a talk at Leavenworth Area Develop-ment's annual meeting, Steve Kelly said he believes Kansas -- and, in particular, northeast Kansas -- is crawling out of the post-Sept. 11 economic downturn.

"I think all signs point to some real positives," said Kelly, who is director of business development for the Kansas Department of Commerce.

And he believes that the state's recent funding of bioscience initiatives will pay dividends for this area. Leavenworth County's proximity to Kansas University, as well as the Kansas City metropolitan area, means the county is well-positioned to benefit by attracting firms and, perhaps, training institutions.

"We think we have a real opportunity to be a real leader in the biosciences area," Kelly said.

Meanwhile, state officials continue to play up the benefits of locating in Kansas as they court businesses of all types. And he challenged members of LAD -- the county's economic development group -- to be prepared and focused.

"I think the region has to come together and decide what they want to be when they grow up," Kelly said.

Among the ways to set this area apart from all others that are competing for businesses, Kelly said, is to offer a strong labor pool, training for employees, tax incentives and other cost reductions.

And organizations such as LAD must be aggressive and must offer the best customer service possible to companies that those organizations are courting.

"In a tight race, that kind of differentiation may win you the prize," Kelly said.

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