Archive for Thursday, August 5, 2004

Industrial growth requires commitment

August 5, 2004

The need for more commercial and industrial development in Eudora has been an omnipresent topic as civic leaders talk about the future of the city, and last month's growth meeting was no exception.
As city leaders talked with leaders from Eudora's schools about issues surrounding Eudora's rapid growth, USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza explained his hopes of capitalizing on the push to expand the biotechnology industry along the Kansas Highway 10 corridor.
Kobza said the district would continue to pursue a biotechnology charter school for Eudora. The district submitted a grant last year that would have created a school-within-a-school through a biotechnology track at Eudora High School, but state officials selected another proposal.
With Kansas University's $40 million to become a cancer research facility, Kobza said that put Eudora in the position to not only produce a qualified workforce but also to supply manufacturing to produce pharmaceuticals or other materials based on the research.
Mayor Ron Conner said he recently toured the Serilogicals facility in Lawrence's East Hills Business Park. The Lawrence plant produces an additive used in many pharmaceuticals.
Conner described the facility as impressive.
But what Eudorans needed to keep in mind, said Planning Commission Chairman Kurt von Achen, was what it took to get companies like Serologicals to set up shop.
"It's neat to talk about how we want industrial development, but it doesn't fall off the tree," von Achen said.
He pointed out the carrot that the Lawrence community dangled before the Atlanta-based company. Lawrence granted Serologicals an 80 percent, 10-year tax abatement.
"If somebody came into town and wanted to put in an industrial property, we'd find a place for it," von Achen said.
And it would take more rooftops before Eudora could draw industrial and commercial ventures on a grander scale, he said.
Offering tax abatements and other perks as encouragement to locate in Eudora didn't have to be seen as a negative. Kobza said such concessions could provide a payoff in the community through job opportunities and taxes that would be paid in the future.
The community need look no further than the Eudora Middle School building, built 10 years ago as a high school, Kobza said. At the time, some doubted the need for the facility, but with hindsight Kobza said it was apparent the benefit the building's presence brought to the community.
Kobza said being aggressive about drawing business wasn't just about the costs now but rather about "being able to look way down the road and saying...Eudora is better because of it."
Civic leaders plan to continue their discussions of growth with a meeting next month. The session is tentatively scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at Eudora City Hall, 4 E. Seventh St.

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