Cooperative economic develoment efforts work
It was a tale that struck a chord with those gathered last Friday for Leavenworth Area Development's annual meeting.
Bob Marcusse, chief executive officer and president of the Kansas City Area Development Council, related the story of the head of Black & Decker, who was tired of competing with other power-tool manufacturers.
"He was determined to build the world's greatest drill and knock all of the competitors off the market," Marcusse told about 130 people gathered for a luncheon at Falcon Lakes Golf Club.
The Black & Decker official encouraged his staffers to consider all aspects of drills. As part of his obsession with building the best drill in America, the man visited a Home Depot store one Saturday morning. For about 15 minutes, he watched a customer who was in the market for a new drill.
"Tell me, what do you want in a drill?" the Black & Decker chief asked the customer.
"I don't want a drill," the customer. "I want a hole. I need a drill, but I want a hole."
And that, Marcusse said, represents how members of his council and Leavenworth Area Development feel.
"We want development," he said. "We want better roads. We want more housing opportunities. We want better jobs for our citizens. We want a greater tax base. We want the benefits of economic growth.
"Do we want Web sites, brochures, doing all of this work? But like the man who knew about the drill, to get what we want, we've got to invest in what we need."
Marcusse praised members of LAD -- a volunteer organization -- for making a difference in Leavenworth County.
As the lead staff member with KCADC, a private, non-profit organization, Marcusse works to position the Kansas City metropolitan area well in competition for new business.
Marcusse explained that his organization, which serves 18 counties on both sides of the state line, could be compared to a Home Depot store.
"Like that Home Depot, we have lots of products, and they have names: Lenexa, Leavenworth, Lee's Summit, Kansas City, Mo.," he said. "They all have different attributes."
It's the mission of the 29-year-old KC Area Development Council to attract businesses.
"We bring people into the store and it's important to have a big enough store so that whoever comes in can find something it wants to buy, and that's why it's so important that Leavenworth continue to be part of the store," Marcusse said. "That's why the regional approach to economic development is the one that works the best."