Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2005

City can’t afford to lose its businesses

September 22, 2005

The city of Eudora in desperate need to attract more industry will soon be losing one. Blue Collar Press will leave its downtown Eudora storefront it outgrew after four years for a new location in Lawrence.

Sadly, Blue Collar's owners say they are leaving the city that incubated their business because they weren't taken seriously when they approached others in the community about relocating in Eudora. In contrast, those in Lawrence recognized them for what they were -- entrepreneurs concerned about the bottom line and growing their business.

Blue Collar's do-it-differently philosophy apparently was misread as a lack of seriousness. That perception could perhaps have been overcome had the company accepted invitations to join the Chamber of Commerce, which could have helped build the understanding and relationships needed as it searched for local growth options.

Still, it should have been a factor in a growing company's decision to leave Eudora.

The Eudora Chamber of Commerce has individual expertise in that regard but depends on volunteers with limited time and no full-time paid professionals. There are those in the city government with the needed knowledge, starting with City Administrator Cheryl Beatty, but they too have other time commitments.

Blue Collar should have been able to go to some local official who would have served as an advocate, made the proper introductions and perhaps explored public financing options.

Eudora is at a disadvantage to its neighbors if it has no point person to perform basic economic development deeds needed to recruit new businesses or retain those already here.

It comes down, of course, to money. That expense shouldn't entirely be the city government's responsibility, but it does have a stake. There are plenty of models the city and Chamber can explore to give Eudora a more active and aggressive position in the economic development arena. We would hope such an effort is on someone's agenda.

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