Archive for Thursday, June 24, 2010

City council talk turns to business park again

June 24, 2010

First steps toward creating a possible business park were taken off the back burner and addressed at Monday’s Baldwin City Council meeting.

Over the years, there have been several proposed sites for such a park and the city has invested in land for them, only to let the options expire. The economic development committee of the council, chaired by Council Member Bonnie Plumberg, has again raised the issue.

“We just feel that it might be the right time, with the amount of jobs it could offer,” said Plumberg, during a work session at Monday’s meeting on the proposal. “We want to grow. We know the Intermodal is going to happen. We think it would put us at the stage of being ready.”

The long-talked about Intermodal near Edgerton, which the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has planned for years, recently received a $35 million grant from the state to begin construction this year. Mayor Ken Wagner believes that will make it happen.

“They would not make that offer if it wouldn’t be accepted,” said Wagner. “The Intermodal is going to happen.”

Many believe that could open doors for the need of a business park to provide services for the shipping hub. But currently there is no space, much less buildings or utilities, for such businesses.

Beth Johnson of the Lawrence/Douglas County Economic Development group was also on hand Monday and outlined what the current industrial park means to Baldwin City. There are a total of 72 full-time and four part-time employees at the sight east of town and a total of $81,940 in taxes were generated from there in 2009.

The council discussed what steps needed to be taken to get the ball rolling on a new park. The two biggest items were to talk to Douglas County Commission Chair Nancy Thellman to gauge the county’s interest in funding and a feasibility study to find out what’s needed to be done.

“I think that’s a good start,” said Council Member Tom Farmer.


Stacy Napier 11 years, 3 months ago

If you want to make some money from the intermodal we need a truck stop. That is the only thing that is going to come to our town. Trucks.


solo 11 years, 3 months ago

what a broken record you are many in this town has not an ounce of vision.
I want a job here in Baldwin and I applaud anyone who is at least trying to bring them here. Hurray for the council, the mayor and the county at least bringing this issue up again. only way this town is going to be more affordable is for people be able to live and work here. working for the school district and/or Baker ain't gonna pay the bills around here anymore.


Stacy Napier 11 years, 3 months ago

Baker is what this town was started and built on. It is what makes this town go. If the college was not here all the businesses would close.

Do you really think that some warehouse is going to bring a lot of great jobs that pay anything over minumum wage, and do you really think that those low paid workers will be able to live here? No they will drive from Franklin, and Osage County.

My point is the intermodal will not be this huge boom that people here think. Do your research on other intermodals that have been up and running in other places.


solo 11 years, 3 months ago

with that attitude nothing would ever happen in this town. I know for a fact there are some good paying jobs with private employers right here in Baldwin--just not enough of them to go around. Baker is in the same mess all schools are in right now. the answer is private business and private investment in real jobs--not jobs funded by the taxpayer dollars (i.e. USD 348, City Hall, Douglas County etc.) real wealth is accumulated by working for private business (of course until Obama completely destroys that too). The more private business the better even if it's a "ware house" job. those jobs could very well include benefits and a decent hourly wage. also those warehouse will need some kind of management staff.
again, the lack of vision and optimism is depressing in this town.


NanCrisp 11 years, 3 months ago

You both have good points. It’s quite true that a successful business park is exactly what the town of B.C. desperately needs. It’s also quite true that the town is not well-suited to attracting the kind of business that will make a business park actually successful. In the early 1990s I was directly involved with promoting the Intech Business Park in Eudora. The company I worked for was both a tenant in the park and owner of the real estate. The hurdles we faced in trying to attract businesses to locate there were virtually identical to the problems B.C. faces:

1) The municipal utility rates were astronomical; the City sought to keep their mill levy down as well as residential utility rates by charging heinous rates to businesses. This resulted not only in the business park losing a major tenant, but was a major factor in several potential tenants choosing eastern Corridor 10 (i.e. – Johnson County) locations instead. 2) Our development assistance was provided by a Douglas County employee who was also affiliated with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. Do you think a Development Director from Lawrence is more likely to recruit businesses to Eudora & B.C. or to Lawrence? Not having a professional in our own city government to negotiate land sales was a big drawback in Eudora. I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen anyone in B.C. who appears to have a strong commercial real estate and development track record. If there is such a person in B.C., why hasn’t he/she been promoting plans for a business park and a strategy for filling it? 3) Getting tenants is only the beginning; you also have to keep them. Especially tricky if you’ve granted IRBs or other incentives to get those companies to come in and they build those buildings. The city doesn’t want to get stuck with the tab or with the empty buildings. Lawrence has numerous examples of the cost of such a failure.

All of this points to the need for intelligent planning, far beyond a “Just Do It” attitude. If you build it, they might not come. But if you have an intelligent plan and the right people with the right connections to implement it, then piggybacking off the intermodal is probably the best opportunity for business development that the town of B.C. has had to date.

What businesses want is easy access to major roadways and, preferably, to a major airport. If you don’t have a location like that (location, location, location) then you might as well sell all the land in your business park to a farm implements dealer who is going to load it up with acres and acres of equipment instead of acres and acres of warehouse/manufacturing/distribution space. And we all know that a total of 72 jobs in an entire business park is paltry. The “sight” (site!) east of town is a far sight from meeting the potential that a business park should bring to a community.


solo 11 years, 3 months ago

Nancy makes some good points. However I am assuming the possibilities for a new park involve buying additional land for a business park, not the existing park as there is no property for sale in that area. Also from my count there are 4 businesses in our current business park. You may disagree but I think 72 jobs provided by 4 businesses isn't too bad. From what I hear most of those jobs are pretty good ones. Nothing wrong with acres and acres of farm equipment when that business continues to sell that equipment and provide jobs and a tax base for the city. I would love to see more businesses just like it in town. Nancy is right that Baldwin cannot attract any kind of business but she might be surprised what might come here if we had the property available and the welcome mat extended.


khayes 11 years, 2 months ago

The intermodal will have a very dramatic impact on this city from a huge boost in truck traffic...(bad thing) to people moving to the area looking for homes and businesses in direct support and indirect support of this facility which will employ over 1500 people. As an example look at the one that was built by BNSF just outside of Plano Texas. Now to attract business were going to have to get off our collective butts and offer incentives like (tax break incentives) to attract employers...threw that one in there so the Juniors of Baldwin would stroke out... Industrial utility rates that are lower...we already do this for Baker U by the way. Also we got locate this on a property that can be sewered and on the power grid...the current industrial park is not located within a mile..literally of a sewer line. Seven years ago I proposed the purchase of ground on US56 that would have been ideal for a park but it was rejected. We need to get moving on this while costs of ground are down.

On a completely unrelated note Mr. Mayor and Counsel why dont you impress all of us citizens and put a wage freeze inplace this year to help the budget...we pay our people enough and well heck today 7.9 million Americans are looking for a job so if they dont like it....ship out... Do something to hold the line on costs guys instead of raising our taxes and rates. God knows we already have a boon doogle of a school to pay for...


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