Archive for Thursday, December 13, 2001

Eudora needs professional recruiting

December 13, 2001

The most striking feature Eudora presents is the number of its new rooftops.

With construction continuing seemingly unabated despite a slowing national economy, this development will remain our signature.

As much pride as the new homes bring their owners and the town, they won't pay the bills. Each new rooftop brings a greater demand for new infrastructure and services. Without further recruitment of business and industry, that growth will create a hardship for their owners. It's a simple matter of math. Homes are taxed at 11.5 percent of their assessed valuation, while commercial and industrial property is taxed at 30 percent. Commercial properties also provide additional tax revenue in the form of sales taxes.

We're told one of the things hurting recruitment of new businesses to Eudora is the lack of commercially zoned property. That is a concern that must be addressed when the city updates its comprehensive plan next year.

But to make the most of that update, Eudora needs a person dedicated to selling the city to potential new businesses and industries.

Eudora's situation is not unique. Many nearby communities are experiencing rapid growth, and are desperate to widen their tax base. Most have an economic development director who works with a board to recruit prospects, network with commercial real estate agents and sell the city to outside businesses.

Currently the city relies on the Lawrence-Douglas County economic development and chamber offices to bring business to town. The proliferation in office, light industrial and retail in Lawrence suggests Eudora is a secondary priority despite rising rents there.

Eudora is currently in this competition with volunteers with limited time, institutional memory and contacts.

We don't want to dismiss the efforts volunteers have given to economic development in Eudora. They have played an important role and will continue to be vital. It is our belief, however, that they should be in a support role to a point person specializing in recruitment.

We realize funding most be found to fill the position. However, the investment in a full-time or even part-time position would pay for itself with the diversified and expanded tax base created by new businesses coming to town. The city and the Chamber of Commerce could look at sharing in the expense of a position that if successfully filled would benefit both.

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