RDA Happenings September 2012
Posted on September 1, 2012 – By Emporia RDA
The Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas (RDA) congratulates Channon Farrell, Christa Grimwood and Frannie Walburn on their recent announcement to locate a new Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt franchise at Kellogg Plaza, 11th and Commercial Street. We also congratulate Corey Haag and his investors for continuing to make strategic investments throughout Emporia and Lyon County. This renewed investor confidence speaks volumes on the positive business climate throughout Emporia and the Lyon County area.
At the 2011 International Conference Shopping Center Expo, the Emporia team, Mayor Kevin Nelson, City Manager Matt Zimmerman, City Commissioner Jim Kessler and RDA President Kent Heermann became aware of a variety of franchise opportunities. One of those was the Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt.
The challenge in obtaining leads for franchising opportunities is identifying potential investors. At the 2012 ICSC RECON Expo, we obtained a franchise directory which has been sorted by potential franchises for our geographic area. We have a listing of those potential franchises’ name, contact and web site information. For those interested in a franchise opportunity, please feel free to contact our office firstname.lastname@example.org We spoke with several franchise operators who would be interested in visiting with potential franchise investors.
To qualify for a franchise opportunity with a particular company requires the applicant to share financial information and net worth. For instance, with a Baskin Robbins franchise, the minimum franchise thresholds to be considered are liquid asset of $125,000, a net worth of $250,000 and preferred operational experience by one or more partners in a food/beverage retail or hospitality environment or proven business management experience.
In the fall of 2010, the RDA along with the City of Emporia, Emporia Chamber of Commerce, Emporia State University, Newman Regional Health, Emporia Main Street and many of the IT professionals from the Emporia area began meeting with the goal of improving the broadband internet service in the Emporia area.
The Broadband Committee continued its work into 2011 with a broadband survey funded by the RDA. I believe as a result of these committee meetings, which include several of the entrepreneurs from the start-up company Valu-Net, a new private sector fiber-optic network company was created.
Speaking with one of the Valu-Net founders, they came to the conclusion it was going to take Emporians to build this Broadband network. Emporia and many local Emporians invested in Valu-Net to make this a reality. Valu-Net has 14 employees, and by September 14th the area between Mechanic and Congress from BNSF railroad tracks to 12th Avenue will have fiber optic internet access.
Back in September 2010, Craig VanWey with the Kansas Department of Commerce (KDOC) and I met with Doug, Lori and Tyler Schmidt about splitting off the Schmidt Custom Cabinetry business from his custom home business. Through the efforts of the Schmidts, KDOC, USDA Rural Development, the City of Olpe and the RDA, Schmidt Custom Cabinetry constructed a new cabinet manufacturing building with a showroom across the street from the Olpe Chicken House. The Schmidts were able to obtain a Rural Economic Development zero interest Loan (REDLG) through Lyon Coffey Electric Cooperative, and the City of Olpe offered them property tax abatement on their project. Just this week I heard on KVOE an advertisement seeking workers for Schmidt Custom Cabinetry. Congratulations to Tyler, Lori and Doug Schmidt on their continued faith in the Lyon County business climate.
One of my economic development allies and friends from Chase County called the other day. Toward the end of the conversation we began discussing an economic development project we worked on together in Chase County – F.A.I. and company President Tom Whalen from northern Indiana. The wiring harness company is located in Cottonwood Falls southwest of the intersection of Highway 177 and Main Street. The company originally assembled wiring harnesses for the Case Bobcat skid loader which was assembled in Harvey County, Kansas. Through a collaborative effort of the Chase County Economic Development group, the local electric coop and F.A.I., the community constructed a new building with a pure operating lease to F.A.I. in 1998.
In 2002, the primary customer in Harvey County decided to outsource the wiring harness to Mexico. Tom Whalen was able to sell F.A.I. in Cottonwood Falls to Cable Tech in 2002, which produced a more diversified product mix and was not dependent on one large customer. That was a huge win for Cable Tech and Chase County. Then in 2010 Valient Aerostructures purchased the company in Cottonwood Falls. This is one story that continues to pay dividends to Chase County and the Emporia Micropolitan area, which includes all of Lyon and Chase County. There are between 52 and 55 full-time employees. I believe Valient is the largest private employer in Chase County.
This project was a great success for the partnership with Chase County Economic Development group and the RDA. The real accolades go to F.A.I., Cable Tech and now Valient Aerostructures, who realize the value of operating a successful business in rural Kansas. The Chase County Economic Development group, Frontier Financial Partners and the RDA were able as a team to successfully get this project to locate in Chase County.