Gardner Edgerton Chamber
Forty years ago, a group of thoughtful, community-minded individuals came together to form what is now known as the Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce. Little did they know that one day the once sleepy towns of Gardner and Edgerton would become a global business hub. Gardner and Edgerton might seem as the final frontier to many Johnson Countians, yet those of us who work or live here know that our communities are at the tipping point of something really big.
It’s not to say that big things aren’t happening already, because they are. From the recent announcement of another 650,000 square foot spec building at Logistics Parks Kansas City to the pro-development foundation being laid by the City of Gardner, our communities are not only growing today, but they are laying the groundwork for years of steady growth long into the future.
Progress is defined as “forward movement toward a destination” and I have no reservations in declaring that 2015 was a year of progress for both GE Chamber and the communities we serve. Consider just the following investments companies have made in our area:
• Three new distribution centers opened at Logistics Park Kansas City (LPKC) in 2015. In total they occupy over 1.7 million square feet of space and employ over 200 people. In addition, another company (located in Western KS) announced plans to open its primary distribution facility at LPKC in the coming year, creating an additional 200 jobs.
• The Learning and Career Center, a multi-partner approach to workforce development, opened at LPKC. Staffed five days a week, the center has the ability to directly connect job seekers and employers at no cost to the employer. In addition, Johnson County Community College has begun offering certificate-based classes in a number of areas related to employment at LPKC.
• Orscheln Farm & Home broke ground on the west side of Gardner, with an anticipated opening later in 2016. And while the general population is aware of Orscheln’s retail presence (they operate 160+ stores in nine Midwestern states), many don’t realize that Farm & Home is just one line of business for Orschelns and in total they exceed over $300 million of revenue annually.
As for the chamber, we continue to work on redefining what progress actually means. For years, chambers simply considered growth in membership the key metric to measuring their performance. The common wisdom was that you joined the chamber when you opened your business because that’s what you were supposed to do. That has changed. There are just too many things going on, too many places to dedicate limited resources and too many places to give your time. Businesses have asked for a new model, and I’m happy to say we’re moving in that direction. In the years to come, we will continue to refine who we are, what we do, and how we deliver services and programs to our diverse members.
As for 2015, the chamber had a number of accomplishments, some with an immediate impact and others that we are just now reaping the benefits of. We worked on internal issues (revising antiquated bylaws, providing board training and development, cleaning up our databases, redefining our mission, etc.) and external ones (building a new website – www.gardneredgerton.org, repairing and rebuilding relationships in the community, etc.). Knowing that our value proposition has to change, we are constantly evaluating and reevaluating the services we provide so that businesses continue to benefit accordingly.
Additionally, we continue to be a resource for the entire community, businesses and residents, member or not. From the hundreds of calls we get annually about rental and relocation information to the thousands of inquiries about business information, we are, and will continue to be, Gardner & Edgerton’s go-to source for community information.
I’m excited about our prospects for the future and look forward to what 2016 brings. As always, we welcome your thoughts and feedback. Email us at [email protected] or call 856-6464.
Progress continues at chamber of commerce