President, Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation
It is hard to believe that a year has passed since I took over leadership of the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation. With new leadership, new staff, a new organizational structure and even new offices, the EDC has experienced a tremendous transformation over the past 12 months.
However, I can assure residents and the business community that there is one thing that hasn’t changed, and that is Southwest Johnson County’s strong sense of community pride and purpose. The region’s Midwestern values have helped to build and sustain a corporate environment that is the complete package, including a low cost of doing business, strong infrastructure and a solid workforce embodying a strong work ethic.
The Southwest Johnson County EDCs job is to leverage those community assets to grow corporate investment, jobs and enterprise in the region. Thanks to the hard work of the EDC’s staff, partners and investors, we couldn’t be more pleased with our results in 2015. The EDC submitted more than two dozen “Requests for Information” to companies interested in a Southwest Johnson County location. Those RFIs yielded new projects resulting in:
• $400 million in new investment
• 4 million square feet of new or expanded space
• 720 jobs
When it comes to Southwest Johnson County, the EDC believes that a rising tide truly lifts all boats. Whether a company chooses a location at New Century AirCenter, Logistics Park Kansas City, or within Gardner, Edgerton or Spring Hill proper, the investment creates a multiplier effect for the entire region, creating more tax dollars for better educational opportunities, infrastructure and a critical mass of vibrant and growing companies.
In addition to drawing new investment, the EDC works with investors and partners to keep existing business in our community. We have one of the most active business retention programs in the region, with 20 on-site visits conducted in the second half of 2015, which resulted in valuable C-level information about challenges and successes facing our top companies. That information is then used to improve the overall business climate in Southwest Johnson County.
In 2016, the Southwest Johnson County EDC plans to continue to work with partners to bring business expansions and new projects to the region, placing particular emphasis on both marketing and workforce development.
The Kansas City Area Development Council is a key partner in our marketing plans, and we plan to draw on KCADC’s expertise to help us focus on specific industries clusters and business leaders, which will help the EDC and our government partners cast a wider net for attracting new business than ever before.
We also plan to roll out new collaborative workforce development initiatives designed to grow and improve our top ranked labor pool. Stay tuned.
Reflecting on a 2015 that exceeded all expectations, the Southwest Johnson County EDC is grateful for the support of our government partners, including City of Gardner, the City of Edgerton and New Century AirCenter, as well as the hard work of corporate leaders from each of our partner communities who serve on our Leadership Council and Board of Directors.
As the region’s EDC heads into its second year under new leadership, I want to assure the community and citizens who live and work in Southwest Johnson County that the ongoing sense of civic pride that has sustained Gardner and Edgerton will continue to be woven into our organization through our events and programs in the years ahead. We look forward to continued prosperity and positive economic development ahead for our region.
Southwest Johnson County sees unprecedented growth in 2015