RDA Happenings April 2011
Posted on April 1, 2011 – By Emporia RDA
This past month the RDA spent a morning reviewing our strategic plan. Simply, our objectives are to work with existing and new businesses to create higher salaried and skilled jobs with new capital investment in our region. Generally all new jobs are welcomed, even those that are minimum wage to those that are six figures a year. However, the policies established by the City of Emporia and Lyon County are to offer performance-based incentives to those qualifying businesses that create a significant number of new full-time jobs that pay an above-average salary of $30,000 or more.
This protracted recession has limited the number of expansion opportunities for our existing manufacturing base and new businesses to our region. In fact, during this recession most employers reduced their workforce. In the Emporia region there are twenty-one businesses where the majority of their sales are outside the Emporia market area. On a regular informal basis, we visited with their local and corporate management team members about expansion opportunities. Today most of our businesses are holding their own in terms of sales volume, which then is reflected in employment numbers. Since there are not many local expansion opportunities, then we reach out to new business through our extensive network of industrial realtors, site selectors and state economic development partners. Our level of new leads continues to be slower than in the economic boom years of the past. We did get a lead last month on a project; the consultant actually contacted our office for additional information. Now that is a promising sign. I know this project is considering four other Kansas communities and at least four other states. Chances at this point are 1 in 30. Now if we had nine more requests like this, I would feel more comfortable that we are getting closer to our next new project.
I have been working with two start-up manufacturing companies over the past several months. One of the two has great potential for our area, but it is a start-up and faces all the perils of a new company. Hopefully, in future newsletter articles more information can be shared.
On a bittersweet note I learned last week that Emporia Hill’s Pet Nutrition plant manager Jim Vaughn is transferring to the Bowling Green, Kentucky Hill’s Pet Nutrition plant. Jim and his team started the facility from the ground up. On behalf of the RDA and the Emporia community, we thank you for your leadership on the Emporia facility ramp up. We wish you well