Special to The Gardner News
Since the inception of the Logistics Park in Edgerton a few years ago, the city has transformed from a sleepy enclave into one of the most robust economic powerhouses in Johnson County.
The park, anchored by the ultra- modern BNSF intermodal train facility, one of the largest such facilities in the country, and encompassing a myriad of warehouses at the forefront of the booming-internet enabled- order fulfilment business, has brought with it an economic boom that is transforming not just the city of Edgerton but the communities that surround it.
But with success comes challenges. From the beginning, it was clear that Edgerton would struggle to keep up with the rapid expansion, and the city embarked on an ambitious plan that included expanding infrastructure such as roads, and the unveiling of a new wastewater treatment plant.
But even with the improvements in infrastructure and other amenities, there remained a need to provide ancillary commercial services that fell beyond the purview of public entities and whose drivers-private capital- needed to be channeled in a sustainable manner.
Enter Elevate Edgerton
Elevate Edgerton is a private-public entity unveiled in April 2018 charged with the responsibility of organizing and facilitating the growth of Edgerton and the Logistics Park. The organization, funded in part by the city, is charged with steering the development of the services and facilities that will make the logistics park a success and guarantee its success.
“We just did our first retreat, and we identified housing and other retail and ancillary services that are needed for the logistics park to succeed,” said James Oltman, president of Elevate Edgerton.
“As the Logistics Park grows, there’s need for housing the growing workforce, restaurants, hotels, a truck stop and the development of an efficient transit system that enables employees who live in other surrounding communities easy access to the jobs in the Park,” he said. “These developments need to be done in a way that benefits the community and the businesses that have invested here.”
Elevate Edgerton is led by a board of directors helmed by Donald Roberts, Edgerton mayor, and incorporates public officials, local corporate leaders and experts drawn from the businesses at the logistics park.
“Our investment partners bring a wealth of expertise that’s hard to quantify. We have transportation experts, engineers, health and energy professionals working with us to fulfil the vision that the board has set out for this community. I’m very excited about the future,” Oltman said.
Oltman brings a wealth of experience to the job. A graduate of Peru State University in Peru, Neb., Oltman has a masters’ degree in organizational management focusing on economic development. Prior to his current role he played a similar role in Ottawa, where he was executive director of Franklin county economic development corporation. While in Ottawa, he helped craft a workforce development plan and a comprehensive plan for the development of an industrial park.
He also held a similar job in Haysville, a suburb of Wichita where he focused on new residential development.
“We crafted an incentive program geared towards new housing and we increased residential housing exponentially,” he said of his time in Haysville.
Oltman is married to Jennifer and they live in Olathe with Rusty, their Australian terrier/yorkie.