Archive for Thursday, March 1, 2007

Speaker offers development strategy

March 1, 2007

Promoting economic development is a lot like developing a small business, said Will Katz, executive director of the Kansas University Small Business Development Center. He delivered the analogy Saturday as part of his keynote address to the Eudora Chamber of Commerce.

"Clearly, creating small business is a vital, vital engine of our economy," Katz said.

The members requested Katz inform the group on ways to spark economic development in Eudora.

"One thing I know about Eudora is that it is a very family-friendly community," Katz said.

Katz noticed Eudora hasn't taken the standard route of adding retail to rooftops when developing its economy, he said.

To help, Katz took the approach he used to counsel new businesses and applied it to drafting an economic development plan.

Katz told the Chamber there was money available from the state and possibly Douglas County to fund economic development initiatives.

The first step comes in creating a profile for the business, in this case the city, Katz said.

Eudora's family-friendly atmosphere and strong school system could all be a part of the city's "profile," he said. The city would also need to pinpoint economic trends and classify growth.

Katz used an example mentioned earlier by Eudora USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza as a possible trend. During a presentation on the district's upcoming bond issue, Kobza told members Eudora could be a two high school town in 20 years.

The next step in drafting an economic development plan is taking inventory of Eudora's overall assets, Katz said.

Items in Eudora's inventory might include the Intech Business Park, the K-10 Corridor and its proximity to Kansas University, Katz said.

For step three, the city, or business, would develop a marketing plan. Katz described the plan like supporting a three-legged stool.

The marketing plan should allow the city to keep its current businesses, attract new businesses and encourage start-up businesses, Katz said.

To accomplish the final step, the city drafts a business plan on paper and executes that plan, Katz said.

"You need a ton of people to execute an economic development plan. You are all busy people," Katz said. "I think you have the chance to make a difference and change the landscape of Eudora."

Katz offered the support of the small business center for any businesses wanting advice, he said.

"When you do these things, I'd love to see small businesses grow and thrive," he said.

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