RDA Happenings December 2014
Posted on December 1, 2014 – By Emporia RDA
On December 12th the Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas (RDA) Board of Directors held their annual meeting. What a difference two years makes in economic activity and job creation.
Two years ago in November, Dolly Madison/Hostess Brands was in bankruptcy and the judge ordered the liquida-tion of all assets. Over 500 workers were without a job. Thirty or forty former workers were at the former Dolly Madison plant keeping the equipment in working order. It was a bleak holiday season for over 500 families in our region.
That, thank goodness, is in the past and Hostess Brands was purchased by two equity groups, Apollo Global Capi-tal and Metropoulos Group. Today the Emporia Hostess Brands plant is the “flagship” plant with nearly 450 work-ers.
Simmons Pet Food had a $4.5 million expansion project in 2013 which added 30 full-time jobs. Then in April 2014 they announced a multi-million dollar expansion project that would add more production equipment. They added 50 full-time employees initially with 80 or more when sales require the additional workers.
We assisted Detroit Diesel Remanufacturing with replacing their leased warehouse space from Sunset Warehouse (the former Didde Corporation building on Graphic Arts Road) with an 80,000 sq. ft. warehouse being constructed by Overlander Street LLC just west of the Detroit Diesel building in Emporia. By assisting Detroit Diesel we were able to retain those 120 jobs in Emporia. If we had not found replacement warehouse space then those operations and jobs would have been moved to Detroit Diesel’s other operations in Ohio or Utah.
Birch Communications acquired a new company, Cbeyond, which created an opportunity for their existing facility in Emporia or Macon, Georgia. The additional 100 jobs were added to the Emporia facility. By the end of 2014 there will be more than 208 full-time employees.
Dynamic Discs/Dynamic Distribution continues on an exponential growth trajectory. Last year, bursting at the seams, at their 912 Commercial Street location, they expanded operations into 10,000 sq. ft. of a 20,000 sq. ft. building located in west Emporia at 3601 W. 6th Avenue with a lease purchase agreement. In August, Dynamic Distribution acquired the building and property expanding into the entire 20,000 sq. ft. building.
Fanestil Meats new 20,000 sq. ft. building on W. Highway 50 is under construction. It will be complete in 2nd quar-ter 2015. Today, Fanestil employs more than 80 workers.
According to a recent Kansas Labor Force report from 2010 to 2014 for the month of October in the Emporia Mi-cropolitan area (Lyon and Chase County) employment grew by 1.78% and from 2013 to 2014 it grew by 5.14%. In 2010 there were 18,135 persons employed and in 2014 there were 18,457 persons employed.
In 2013 the unemployment rate was 6.9% and in October 2014 the unemployment rate was 3.7%. The Emporia area is headed in the right direction.
RDA Board member Scott Briggs completed his second three-year term and attended his last board meeting.
Bryan Whitmore completed his first three-year term and due to out-of-town business commitments was unable to serve a second term.
On behalf of the RDA Board we thank Scott Briggs and Bryan Whitmore for their service on the Board of Direc-tors.