RDA Happenings August 2016
Posted on August 31, 2016 – By Emporia RDA
Plans are underway for Manufacturing Appreciation month in October. The Flint Hills Technical College (FHTC), the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas are in the planning stages. The majority of events planned are at Flint Hills Technical College on October 7th and 8th. More details to follow.
Emporia definitely has a comparative advantage when it comes to post-secondary institutions with Emporia State University (ESU) and Flint Hills Technical College (FHTC). ESU has one of the top five teacher’s colleges in the United States. The ESU Business School is AACS accredited.
FHTC has Associate and Technical Degree programs in Computerized Machine Tool Engineering, Industrial Engineering Technology, and Welding Technology, which are just three of their fourteen Associate Degree programs. These three manufacturing programs give Emporia a comparative advantage with the level of technical skills which meets or exceeds the programs in Wichita and the Kansas City metro area.
The FHTC Advisory Boards for all of their programs provides the faculty two-way feedback from local and regional employers on the skills and the leading edge technology. This gives the student a competitive edge.
Recently, several of the Flint Hills Technical College faculty received the credentials to instruct and give the Manufacturing Technician 1. The MT1 certification is endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers, again, a competitive advantage.
The RDA marketing strategy has used the analogy to a three-legged stool. The three-legged stool of Business Retention, Expansion, and Recruitment encourages our basic business, which are those whose sales are almost entirely outside the Emporia trade market area, to maintain and increase their sales, which translates into more hours worked for their existing employees and eventually adding more full-time employees.
The second stool leg is expansion, which is encouraging those existing basic businesses to expand their physical size of operations, increase employment and purchase more goods and services locally.
The third stool leg is recruitment of new basic industries, to locate a new business operation in our area. It can be a basic business that locates in an existing building, or in most cases constructs a new building. The building construction and equipment installation can take nine to twelve months, and in some instances, eighteen months.
During the construction period local contractors and trades persons are hired for the project. Some large projects are constructed by national or international construction firms which bring employees from outside the community. Some of those employees and support staff utilize our local hotels and restaurants during the construction of the new building and installation and setup of the equipment. That construction phase has a positive economic impact on the community.
Once the plant is operational, then it begins “spooling up” operations, the hiring and training of employees. In some instances, management team members are located in Emporia. The majority of those management employees locate to the area.
In most instances, the recruited basic manufacturing companies are growing and have great potential for physical expansions and more job growth. Norfolk Iron & Metal, CAMSO and Simmons Pet Food have expanded numerous times since locating in Emporia.
The benefit of retention, expansion, and recruitment with building construction, it increases the local property tax base, and the creation of higher paying jobs in our area.
According to County Business Patterns data for 2014, the average manufacturing salary for Lyon County was $43,456 and the average annual salary is $31,056. The average annual salary for jobs in retail and accommodations, and food services are $18,049 and $12,492 respectively.
The RDA business development strategy is a long-term process of building relationships to develop leads. Some of the sources of the leads originate from the Kansas Department of Commerce, Kansas City Area Development Animal Health Corridor, site selection consultants, national real estate firms, referrals and expansion opportunities from our business retention and expansion (BRE) visits, companies contacting us directly, target marketing, leads generate from out of market visits, meetings and events, and leads from local individuals.
We invest time and resources in recruitment efforts, more time is invested developing long-term relationships with our local primary employers.
The Kansas Department of Commerce business recruitment office has been going through some transitions. Three years ago there were five full-time staff or contract employees in the business recruitment division. In 2013, Kansas had contract employees in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, which covered business expansion and recruitment projects for west coast, the Midwest, and east coast markets. The other two employees were based in Kansas covering the Plains States from North Dakota to Texas and the Kansas City metro area. Many of my economic colleagues from Georgia and other state were somewhat envious of the Kansas Competitive Advantage.
As of Monday, August 15, 2016 there will only be 1 ½ employees working on business expansion and recruitment for the State of Kansas. With a 70% reduction of support staff, the overall recruitment efforts will change.
Kansas communities, including Emporia will need to start generating more of their own leads. In an average year, a good number of our leads came from the Kansas Department of Commerce (KDOC).
Companies that located here in Emporia from KDOC leads were CAMSO (which was originally Caterpillar, Inc.), and Norfolk Iron & Metal. Two other companies which leads came from KDOC and direct contact by the company were Simmons Pet Food (which originally was Menu Pet Food) and Hill’s Pet Nutrition.