Category Archives: Economic development

Photos from the Visioneering trip to Chattanooga

Bill Wilson has been taking a few snapshots on the Visioneering trip to Chattanooga. Wednesday’s tour included a trip to the city’s aquarium.

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The return of due diligence

I’m certainly no entrepreneur. No financial magician, either.

But I’m the kind of anal-retentive guy who will spend a year voraciously reading automotive reviews before I even think about approaching a dealer to trade cars. That’s no excuse for buying a Chevrolet Blazer, but I never said I was perfect.

So maybe that’s why I’ve struggled to get this term out of my head this week: Due diligence.

It cropped up twice this week, early as I sat in court listening to the mind-boggling tales of investor after investor who happily plowed thousands into Thomas Etheredge’s Wild West World, largely without so much as a Google of “Thomas Etheredge,” let alone any sticky details like a proforma or a business plan.

I’ve certainly underestimated the spell of a jailhouse conversion, let alone three of them.

And that says nothing of the bankers who handed over bags of money to him, apparently with little more than a hearty “Look me in the eye and hear me well.”

And then due diligence cropped up again as I researched a story on the relative lack of development around Intrust Bank Arena. It seems that business developers have this crazy notion that they’d like to gauge the demographic and traffic around the arena before they buy in and start building restaurants, entertainment venues and shops. It happens that way all across this great country of ours. Go figure.

So if there’s a moral to my week, it’s a growing appreciation of the folks who will follow the arena downtown to do business.

After they do their homework.

Kansas seventh in CNBC ranking of best states for business

Kansas got some good publicity this week when CNBC ranked the state seventh in its list of America’s Top States for Business.

According to a press release from the state, the report analyzed each state by examining 40 measures of competitiveness. Those are grouped into 10 categories: cost of doing business, work force, quality of life, economy, transportation, technology and innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital and cost of living.

Kansas was in the top 10 in work force, transportation, econonomy and cost of living.

From Gov. Mark Parkinson:

“Each time our state is recognized by an organization like CNBC, it confirms that our policymakers, legislators, educators and economic development leaders are making good decisions and positioning us for success. And of course, this ranking speaks volumes about the proud Kansans who comprise our work force, own businesses and continue to drive innovation here.”

Virginia was the top state on the list, followed by Texas, Colorado, Iowa, Utah and Minnesota.

Be thankful for home price stability

A CNN article today makes it clear how fortunate homesellers in the Wichita area should feel.

While prices here remain basically stable, there are $500,000 homes in California changing hands for $200,000.

“EVVVVERY HOME MUSTTTT GOOOO! Bad credit, no problem. No down payment, no problem. No money, big problem.”

KTEC’s not giving up

Over the past couple of weeks, Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp. has been making a big push to keep itself intact, despite a budget recommendation by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to move parts of the agency into the Kansas Department of Commerce and completely do away with other functions.

Officials from the private-public agency charged with helping high-tech startups get off the ground and grow has been on an e-mail petition campaign to enlist support from Kansans.

Despite some media reports suggesting that KTEC will remain intact because of actions in the Kansas House, KTEC apparently isn’t convinced that its survival is guaranteed.

Click here to see the petition.

Garvin: Let them walk

Alex Garvin, the Yale University urban planning professor, put a few tips for kickstarting Wichita’s downtown on the table Wednesday night at the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation’s annual lecture.

Tucked neatly among those tips was a message for the the huddled masses yearning to park in a lovely $20,000-per-space concrete parking garage next door to the Intrust Bank Arena: Forget it.

Garvin’s only been in Wichita for a couple of days, so he can be excused for missing the city’s pathological aversion to – gasp – walking.

But he’s been involved in reviving downtowns for decades, and his advice to strategically spread out downtown’s attractions to induce patrons to walk among them for pre- and post-event food, drinks and fun should be taken very seriously.

He talked frequently Wednesday night about the economic dangers of allowing patrons to “get in their cars and go home.” Which is precisely what you do in Wichita by allowing the exercise-averse to park within a few feet of Intrust’s front door. Do that, and you all but assure that downtown won’t develop around the arena.

Call Garvin’s advice what you will. I call it an unqualified endorsement for the initial plans put in place by the Sedgwick County Commission and the Wichita City Council.

Growth’s screeching halt in Overland Park

Overland Park, one of Kansas City’s fastest growing suburbs, has seen more than just a new housing slowdown, the Kansas City Star reports.

February ended without the issuance of a single new home permit, a stark contrast to the 1990s when about 1,100 were issued every month.

City officials blame the economy, which is a good bet, but I wonder if Overland Park just isn’t built out. Overbuilding is the biggest enemy of any housing market, and you wonder if the city won’t confront that soon.

Two names for Proposition K

It’s fascinating what you can find on Google.

Proposition K, the anti-tax proposal in Kansas to standardize property tax hikes at 2 percent, was the subject of a Google search today as I sought to learn more about it.

Imagine my surprise to find this Proposition K that went to the ballot last year in San Francisco.

Hmmmmmm. Anyway, here’s a good capsule on what Kansas’ Proposition K covers, and it’s not prostitution.

Let’s get a discussion going on Kansas’ version. Is this normalizing property taxes? Or is it a thinly-veiled attempt to shift property tax burdens off the affluent?

What do you think?

Entrepreneurship thrives in a recession

The headline above is the mantra of Tim Pett, director of Wichita State’s Center for Entrepreneurship. And now, this article by Financial Express substantiates that.

In fact, Pett thinks now is the time for entrepreneurs to begin chasing their dream, much as Bill Gates used a recession to kick-start Microsoft.

Your thoughts?

Mark Chestnutt for Wichita CVB chief? Uh, no.

You know, maybe it’s a mark of my rural upbringing, but I don’t have any trouble staying busy in Wichita. It seems that country music artist Mark Chesnutt doesn’t agree, though, as the song “Things To Do In Wichita” indicates. This link includes a link to the song.

In the spirit of full disclosure, this is precisely the kind of country music that makes me want to give my brain a lead enema – that tried and true lovelorn theme that’s been used in about 790 billion country songs over time.

Plus, the equally tired – oops, tried – cheap shot at Kansas. I won’t say a word about the two-fingers-in-the-nose twangy style, because I’m a business writer, not a music critic.

I think Mark and his songwriters need a little face time with John Rolfe and the good people at the Greater Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau.

More on the Y at First and Waco

Allen Bell, the city of Wichita’s economic development director, volunteered some information during Tuesday’s council meeting that really didn’t register at first.

Bell said that the city, in sending out fliers to sell 2.3 acres at First and Waco – no RFP, just fliers – asked interested parties to offer up their last, best offer for the land.

But a closer look at the offers submitted by the Greater Wichita YMCA and InSite Real Estate Group raises a question: How do you define the best offer?

The InSite offer was for $700,000 for the land, on which 60,000 feet of office space would be built within the next five years.

The Y package provided by city officials didn’t include a cash price, but included a laundry list of programs similar to what the Y offers at its other Wichita locations. It’s an impressive collection of community programming, to be sure. But there’s no offer of money.

So how did city staff arrive at the Y offer as the best?

Quintiles executive bullish on Kansas

A vice president at Quintiles, the world’s largest clinical research organization, has a pretty positive view of Kansas’ spot in the world of economic development in a story in Site Selection magazine.

Quintiles, which employs 22,000 people in 50 countries, has about 900 people working at its 236,000-square-foot complex in Overland Park. It moved to OP from KCMO in 2006.

The article also talks about the Economic Revitalization and Reinvestment Act the governor signed this year to land Cessna’s new Columbus plant and mentions Kansas’ favorable position in several business climate rankings.

From the article:

“Kansas is a very progressive state. It works hard to put together an environment and financial incentives that make this a very good place to be –- a place where you can be prosperous and grow,” McDermott says.