Hill asks council for economic development help
Without much on the agenda for Monday night’s Baldwin City Council meeting Dave Hill’s quarterly report and a plea to the council were the biggest items.
Hill, president of the Baldwin City Economic Development Corp., updates the council every four months on what the group is doing to spur economic growth. He said the group has about $22,000 and has added a few new members.
But he wanted to encourage the city council, and staff, to do what it can to prepare for the eventual building of the Gardner Intermodal, a gigantic train transportation and warehouse hub to be built west of Gardner that’s expected to create thousands of jobs. Burlington-Northern Railway is at the center of the project and its officials have taken a look at what Baldwin City has to offer.
“Steve Dodge from Burlington-Northern came in to look around and tell us about the intermodal,” said Hill. “He said they are still waiting on a permit and it should take six months to get the permit and build out in 18 months.
“If we really want something out of this, we need to be ready now,” he said. “We need to have our ducks in a line. There are four things as economic development we want to see from the city.”
1) Consider 3-acre tracts for houses inside the city limits. He said those homes pay their way.
2) Start talking about a business park with the Douglas County Commission.
3) Determine what incentive package the city can present to potential businesses that want to locate here.
4) Get building permits back up from the three so far this year to the 73 that were issued in 2003. He said that will take an improved attitude and process from the city.
Hill said that much of the state of the local economy is a reflection of what’s going on nationally. He showed the council a listing of the houses for sale here, which totaled 56 last month. He said that wasn’t out of line.
“We have our challenges. We can’t do anything about gas prices. We can’t do anything about the national economy,” said Hill. “But I don’t think 56 houses is too many.”
Council President Amy Cleavinger has attended meetings about attracting businesses to communities and agreed with what Hill was saying. She said what those businesses look at is a reason not to choose a city.
“If we don’t have our ducks in a row, they’re going to move on down the road,” said Cleavinger.
The council did approve a change in the city ordinance regarding temporary electrical service hookups and rates. The same was true of an agreement with the Lumberyard Arts Center Project to build a sidewalk to the center that crosses city land. The council also approved the purchase of a new animal control vehicle for $15,688.