Archive for Thursday, January 8, 2009

Council will discuss economic development

January 8, 2009

In many cases, this year’s budget for the city of Eudora cut spending. However, one area of funding that was increased was economic development.

The Eudora City Council decided in July to allow for $90,000 to increase a business tax base which is just 10 percent of the city’s tax base.

City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said the money was a way for Eudora to invest in itself.

“It’s a very critical issue to Eudora,” she said. “We desperately need more retail to divert pressure from the residential tax base. The communities that are highly successful — Lenexa, Overland Park — are successful because they have a large retail tax base. We need to start working toward that.”

The council will begin mulling over economic development firms this month. Fort Worth, Texas, firm Buxton made a presentation to the council in July, and Beatty said two other firms from Wisconsin have contacted her.

But the front-runner at this point is Bucher, Willis, and Ratliff, which already serves as the city’s staff engineer and facilitated last year’s community visioning meetings.

The Kansas City, Mo., firm made a presentation at the last city council meeting of 2008 to offer its services.

The city is interested in BWR because not only does the firm know the city and the area, but it offered more services than Buxton.

“We know you people and have seen you build a good rapport with the planning commission,” Mayor Tom Pyle told BWR staff during their presentation to the council. “Personally, I’d rather see us go with someone we know and have interacted with.”

Among other things, BWR said it would analyze good business types, analyze long term planning for locations and would provide architectural drawings for how a given business might look.

“They were offering much more in services for relatively the same amount of money and that’s why there was a piqued interest in what they presented,” Beatty said.

Richard Kaplan, of Kaplan Consulting, also spoke to the council during the presentation. He would serve as a sub-contractor if BWR were to get the contract.

“What’s good about Richard is he’s worked throughout this area,” Beatty said. “These are people who are local and understand the relationship between Kansas City, Lawrence and the surrounding areas.”

Beatty said the continuity maintained by hiring BWR also would be important when the time comes to actually draw businesses to Eudora.

“You can sell yourself better to a businessman if they see that you’re working with people that know what they’re doing and have history with the community,” she said.

The council could discuss the hiring of firms Monday.

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