RDA Happenings January 2016
Posted on January 31, 2016 – By Emporia RDA
The Emporia economy, for the last three years, has been quite robust. There has been tremendous job growth at Hostess Brands with the addition of over 500 employees, Simmons Pet Food and Birch Communications together added hundreds more.
Construction activity has been good on the industrial side with Fanestil Meats new Highway 50 building, Detroit Diesel had an 80,000 sq. ft. warehouse building constructed on Overlander Street.
Hostess Brands had a 36,000 sq. ft. warehouse building in the past few years and Simmons Pet Food added additional building space to accommodate their new production line.
During the past three years there was a tremendous amount of construction activity and job creation. That is one of the reasons of the economic growth is that the unemployment rate for Lyon County was 5.9% and November 2015 was 3.6%.
Some challenges created with economic growth are a tighter job market and a tight housing market. It is better to have these challenges rather than high unemployment and a surplus of homes for sale and apartments for rent.
So what does the future bring? There are headwinds in the energy sector, commodities prices grains and livestock are on a downturn and the first part of 2016, the stock market is making a correction. We may be entering another economic slowdown, but the Emporia economy is quite diversified with our various sectors.
Once winter weather is over the H.J. Baker & Bros construction project will begin and is planned to be operational prior to the end of the year.
In Industrial Park III, which CAMSO and Simmons Pet Food are located, Warren Way will be constructed this year. We received a Kansas Department of Transportation grant to fund a substantial portion of the project. The new road will improve the efficiencies for Simmons who transports unfinished and finished goods from their west building to the east building. Another benefit, is that there will finally be paved access to the remaining 45 acres in Park III for future development.
In mid-December I met with Hostess Brands Senior Management to get an update. Since it was close to the holidays we exchanged gifts. I gave then some Granada chocolate and they gave me three boxes of cake products – Sno Balls, Holiday cupcakes and one totally white box. I opened the box and it was a new product developed for Valentine’s Day. Their only request was to not publicly reveal the new product.
On January 12th, Hostess Brands publicly announced limited-edition Valentine’s Day products. In December the box was full of “I Heart You” Cakes, a heart shaped chocolate cupcake topped with a layer of rich chocolate and vanilla cream filling.