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KNSS Radio>Audio & Video on Demand>>ISSUES 2016 01/17/16

ISSUES 2016 01/17/16

Jan 13, 2016|

Keith Lawing, Senior Administrator for the Regional Economic Area Partnership, discusses south central Kansas economic development

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

This is issues too funny sixteen I'm Steve Macintosh our guest is key employing senior administrator for the regional economic area partnership. Welcome to issues Tony sixteen keys. And before we talk about regional economic development unlike did ask you about another professional hat you Wear I think Kelly about the workforce alliance of south central Kansas well he's on the other hand you are yes. That is I got a couple hats that is one of them the workforce alliance is a local workforce investment board one of five in Kansas. And we help facilitate managed. Job training funds we work with employers job seekers. Try to help grow this economy and try to match. People looking for good jobs with employers trying to find good workers try. And has been that's just been an ongoing news you know it's a big part of a lot of conversations you're lately about the economy job certainly is what drives us. And you know overall we're seeing in nice uptick we're seeing a lot more hiring activity go on here in the region. You know feeling a lot better about where the economy is and helping folks find good jobs. Well if you appear you envision a huge interest in working in jobs and creating jobs and growing businesses or does that interest come from. Well I I don't know I guess it's you know I didn't grow up thinking I wanted to be workforce board director about certainly a very committed to community warning to see Wichita on the south central Kansas region grow. And I have an opportunity in this a in this position to do that so trying to take advantage of the best I can't. Let's get some background if you would on me and regional economic area partnership are we short of natural reef I guess what what is it. The start dare I read books a coalition of local governments and it's like to call it a Coalition of the Willing so it's a voluntary council governments. Created about 1617. Years ago one of the catalyst at the time was former mayor Bob Knight from what you talk. And in the realization was when we look at economies. And they they are not made. On political founders are not the not limited by political boundaries you know you economies are based on regions. And you don't have a particular city or county that defines what a regional economy is. And as we look at south central Kansas. I was very clear that why Wichita was the hub. Of this particular region and it certainly. What impact did and was impacted by our neighbors. Newton elder ray no Reno county Hutchinson. And the idea was is the guy you know some of these local governments have the cops same issues that common concerns. How can they worked together to address those common concerns and journalists around economic developments around natural resources. And so reap really looks at those issues. Or Kobe can have a collective impact on behalf of the region and and then benefit those individual communities that are members of reap. And again dude did you say when did we started this 1997. Was when the conversation started I think it formally. Kicked off as an organization in 1999. OK so don't do these who's involved in this. Primarily again like it's a local governments in south central Kansas. So he should. He'd ever hit the membership is open any local government in this ten county region. And so mainly it is your mayors and City Council members county commissioners. We work with some of the city manager city administrators for his local governments as well. There's a board of directors silly if you remember Ethel governments a member they appoint a a representative to serve on the board of directors. And they meet on a quarterly basis. The first committees we have a legislative committee we have an executive committee. It's not overly formal at all. But again they they tried to collaborate and to me on a regular basis. To touch if these local government officials to kind of talk amongst themselves and try to come up with solutions to help you how we grow the economy down here. We have is do you have to have a central place where is somebody keeps is so organized so you save you yeah and that's when he people do you have below the and I think that's you know really there's not a governing body you know and they do not do government so they do not have any formal controller authority. And so it doesn't lend itself to that it infrastructure and so what what we do the workforce alliance we have a contract to provide staffing support administrative services. To reap and so there is basically about. Two and a half of us. And we proof provide that function on behalf the organization and we also partner with Wichita State University particularly Hugo wall school. We also work with the center for economic development of business research. They do some policy analysis. They share data with us on behalf of the region and and try to try to drive some of the conversations are recasts. I attended the annual wreath policy summit I was impressed by the gathering of top local businesspeople and the level of conversation government people. Rita is dedicated to making things happen in our region each regional economy tolls but that'll. Well I think you know you who started talking about today was old jobs issue and that's something that. You know that's almost the barometer on how do you do you measure determine the strength of the weakness of an economy. Of a region are they creating jobs mum and you know. The government itself. Is not going to be the primary job creator for region but it certainly can be catalyst and it can be an influence or so to speak. And so the summit that you were match. You know what reap is trying to do is to raise the issues that need to we need more weren't assigning you know how does do we grow the economy how do we help our businesses. Grow. And so some of the conversations were looking now right now around exports. You know how can we help open markets. 22 other countries so we can sell our product whether that be overseas where there talking China South America Mexico Canada. If were able to provide some infrastructure. And an environment for our companies to make those connections there sales grow go up and ultimately they would need to hire more people. And again driving the overall wealth and the economy. You know us to some other issues that Reid looks at around infrastructure would be transportation. You know again if we're gonna move product we gotta have the infrastructure to do it whether that is highways roads air service. Freight rail service. And so the event that you were was reaps opportunity to bring business leaders to bring community leadership leaders together. And really raise awareness about how critical those issues are and try to drive some policy discussion so government. Stays in its lane so to speak in terms of how they provide business support and provide those businesses the opportunity to grow and thrive here in south central Kansas Sony's big little chuckle when I here's somebody a politician campaigning eruption but I'm going to create jobs. It's it doesn't happen very off well this offense at all you know and I think it's in a sense now that government does create jobs in this may have to hire people I mean you know if you look at some of our communities. Some of the largest employers are your school districts who may be university so I felt a certain extent government does create jobs but I think the more important role. For government local government state government even the federal government. Mr. create an environment and infrastructure. To where you know on that goes to education and training for so to speak that's one example how do you are you able do we quit your citizens with the skills needed. To help that business grow and and those are policy decisions. And so when a politician maybe some and create jobs and what they're really talking about is create an environment. Yeah where our economy can thrive and that is the role of government and my estimation those are things are reap is trying to. I get a handle on and you know adopting best practice sharing best practices. Talking about how how regions collectively can can grow their businesses. Really shows is that there are many entities and central Kansas and wanna see progress in business attraction job growth pulls different entity together different personalities it. Can be sometimes a little like herding cats served no and it's very much they'll pretty much area now and it's it's cap hurting innocent that's that's a good term to use. You know one of the things about the political culture of Kansas is that it is very independent I mean you know you think about. Our ancestors certainly my grandparents or great example I mean we got her 160 acres and and we were kind of Mara and we you know we didn't get a lot of government health and hang in our nurse Nino neighborly and all that stuff but. You know there's a certain level competition between communities and ever and we got strong personalities like like you mentioned and so. And when you look at AA regional like south central Kansas and you think about the communities that make up this reaching you know Hutchinson. Elder raid derby Wichita. There's going to be a lot of different opinions on how best to move the dial. So in collaboration is not easy but if we look again at what's going on and other regions. And I think the closest one you can point to was the Kansas City region. They are doing great when it comes to economic development I mean that region is growing and there's a lot of collaboration amongst those multiple government entities I mean if anybody's driver and ranked Kansas City. You know what you're on the cancer Missouri side you're gonna drive through three or four different cities sometimes not even really know who. The so how did they manage the traffic flow. And you know how does a dress on issues. Like act protecting natural resources and a collective way. I am and so again you look at you know what with a variety of personalities a variety of governing bodies coming together. You know collaboration sometimes can can be challenged but I think in the long run if you get a right. It benefits the region and that you have more efficient government for one thing. I mean there's an efficiency aspect that if you're working with your neighbors not against your neighbors you can assure lower your cost of doing business and provide a better quality of life. For the citizens that that you represent Maine in the citizens a living your communities and certainly the businesses. That are. Living cannot and an operating within your community as well. Talk about a few addition main stumbling block or two or challenge if you wanna put it that way of creating a booming business environment in south central Kansas. Well. Eat you know way. There's several and a sense that our our I would say are challenges. You know one is that. We are not a natural destination location and it in the sense that maybe a Dallas Fort Worth it so I mean you know you look at. The the economies of scale large metro area can bring. Moved and so as far as economic development as far as attracting businesses the way that that that that works these days is that. You know businesses of colonel locate or relocate somewhere that they're looking for May. Two. A government I hate to use the terms subsidy but an incentive that cash incentive. That may be bringing business to a local area. Work or not you know we're not doing that we in this to give politically and historically. Kansas and our region is not one that's gonna hand businesses just. Cash. Like other regions do so so we need to demonstrate that we have the infrastructure here that will provide. A business. Corporation a competitive advantage if they locate and operate here. And then so how do you do that well yeah again it goes to the infrastructure issues. How do you get folks to agree to make the investment song on which road which roads for which highways or wing and help build up or or create new space. You know water. Utilities those types of issues so. Ellie again getting folks from different communities. I different parts of the region to agree on. Strategy sometimes can be challenged. And then I think historically can't and this is sort aware were moving here is that when we the industry that has really said it. The economy historically. Over the last 304050. Years in south central Kansas in the aviation industry. And we've gotten used to the cycles you know you have the boom cycles and the you know I and the aviation industries hiring. Man this is not just the larger OEM companies that the cessnas that Textron is. Beechcraft leverage. These are the supply chain I mean so there's a whole network of businesses that suddenly do better. When when aviation and the economy strong and then when the economy goes down and you see the layoffs. You know it's not just the the large aviation companies that again as the supply chain. It is your machine shops it is those and then it translates into your service industry I mean we've seen statistics that. You know one manufacturer aviation job Cano on this individuals making a good wage you know you make good wages in manufacturing. We spend that money here in the economy so your your your getting your hair cuts year year year you're you're going out to eat you're going to movies so that drives the overall economy. And I think we kind of got used to that dynamic we kind of got used to the boom and bust cycles. And now the way technology is. And it's increasing productivity and and and decreasing amount of labor needed in order to produce product. So you're you're impacting the number of jobs that are out there. And other industries have said well I'm not sure if I should go to south central Kansas because of the aviation industry fires up again. Those people working for me are gonna leave my company go work for the aviation and stream maybe I can't compete. With those wages the aviation industry provides. We're rat now in my opinion is is that in the they cycle it is is changing in a way that. If it's not a cyclical change in the workforce not a cycle will change the economy's structural change in the economy. So we have to do things differently if we want to provide economic growth and we've done historically. And Reid is very much interested in this reap wants to figure out how we can grow businesses. That aren't only located here in Wichita. As central counting on only associated with the aviation industry but how can we grow businesses and industries outside of that. And we got a lot of advantages in south central Kansas we have businesses and hard recounting. A such as excel industries AGCO that are making honey manufacturing products com binds add equipment lawnmowers. That is. Almost requiring the same kind of technical expertise that you do in the aviation industry. And you've got some wages that are really solid they're so how do you help those industries grow you think about energy. In oil and gas some I know we all of the two dollar lesson two dollar. Gallon gas but fuel industry as has been a wealth generating industry in Kansas for a long time how do we help energy continued to be driver for our economy wind farms. You know how do we look at those alternative technologies and sure try to build some industries stand here so we can capture some emerging job classes and again not to compete with the aviation history that we complement the aviation industry because we wanna keep them here too. We we wanna keep those jobs in south central Kansas. You're listening to issues Tony sixteen on the Entercom radio stations and our guest just keep clawing senior administrator for the regional economic area partnership. Replay is is tacking the issues through some thinkers and doers and local and regional education. Talk about the help you're getting from the campus and you talked about Wichita State a moment ago. Yeah I am and I think the division that doctor Byrd Wichita State's talked about in terms of the innovation campus I mean this really goes right to what I'm talking about in terms of how you diversify your economy how do you look at technology and how that is draw I mean. Job creation how that's driving away businesses operate and then how do you position you were region your community to take advantage of that. You know and there is like a said is is that structural change the economy is that some of the jobs that we have had within industry. Are are not getting exist anymore because of technology we talk about three printing. I mean you know that's gonna really change manufactured in a big way and so. You know we're gonna need more programmers so as may be one area or one job classification made. Diminish in number or maybe even just go away you're creating new ones. And that's what the innovation campus concept is all that that's what doctor part of trying to capture you know how do we help those businesses understand that. But it's not only Wichita State. You know we work with Community Colleges. Butler community college is really at the forefront of being innovative they I've created a number of new technology programs here with in the last couple years. You know everything from. 3-D animation and a cyber security program mean again trying to keep up well with what is happening in the economy either incredibly innovative out there you know Hutchinson Community Colleges is another. Very progressive school college community college. You know we certainly have talked a lot about the which very technical college and the new campus it's kind of I guess it still somewhat new. I'm out there the national center for aviation training. But again that is a world crop class train facility that is keeping up on the latest technology. To provide or businesses that do the best. Trained workforce week and a half. And that's the Kwon I'm talking about the infrastructure needed. For to provide businesses a competitive advantage every business were talking to right now it seems like the one they're concerned just weren't gonna find workers. Where to find workers and I mean workers to have some skills they have to have knowledge technical knowledge some kind of expertise. When they come to my shop I will train them you know even more once they get here but you gotta walk in with a base knowledge. And again it's this network of Community Colleges the technical college and other schools are helping us do that. Media Kansas legislature is back in session does REIT have. Legislative priorities stinks and would like to push forward to speak up yeah definitely and you know that certainly another reason that read does exist and one of the the catalyst for for them to operate. It is what reap early tries to do is look at the region as a whole and determine what legislative issues what policy issues would have a positive economic impact in south central Kansas. Historically. When the state was providing funds to help subsidize commercial air service from. Used to be mid continent now Eisenhower airports are re very much advocated for that because there was a true regional benefit. You know if if you lived in new nor elder raid and you had to fly somewhere chances are you're driving amid Connor porn flying out of there are so lower airfares. We're really had a positive impact throughout the region so if so re collected data on that we communicate to legislators about that over the years. You know and so so this year that the focus is really going to be on some policy issues. Related to investments and job training skills development. And the innovation campus you know how can the legislature. Pru help Wichita State have that environment where they can be innovative they can bring businesses like Airbus a net app on their campus and help those businesses grow and operate. You know fund Dina. Nine ER I mean that is always critical so we're trying to protect some investments the State's been making. That that help support economic development and you know again going back to the infrastructure issue one of the concerns that re path as. As the continually use. Money from the Department of Transportation transfers to help support general fund expenditures. That is gonna cause some pain at some point in time for it hasn't already you're gonna start seeing some projects getting delayed or maybe even eliminated. And then again the businesses that are moving product. That that need solid roads are going to be impacted in the citizens that that I have to get to work have to get to school. If we don't have a quality road system. That's gonna hurt the economy overall so those are two issues of concern that will be watching very closely as legislature convenes in discussed William little short on time but I wanna talk about BR UG. Brett coming about break your blueprint for originally economic growth and again this goes back to what I think we need to do is a region. If we wanna grow jobs we have to be more deliberate. And strategic we cannot just wait for the aviation industry to bounce back we can't wait for people start by incessant as an earlier judge sent you know and the market to go up and so again going back to Wichita State doctor Byrd as vision. Break is a way. To model what well but what Wichita State is done for the aviation industry into other industries. So we're looking at those industries such as who owned gas industry. Data services and information technology. Advanced manufacturing advanced materials. And so what can we do to help those businesses grow and so Bragg is reaching out to those businesses and were asking them. What what do you need what you need to grow your business in south central Kansas. And so it's business front it's not government run. You know as folks that are funded from the public sector we're sitting on the sidelines with bringing our ears and on her arm miles to these meetings and we're listening to what these businesses are telling us. And we're gonna try to create and continue to create the infrastructure. You know helping to build the pipeline a skilled workers. Helping to do innovation at Wichita State and and other. Research and development making sure we have the low cost infrastructure such as utilities water. Whatever business needs to lower their cost of doing business to increase are sales. That is what Greg is about and again look teen had a cluster of businesses so when you help one business you're helping multiple businesses. More at the early stages of this. But to me this needs to be the way we do economic development in south central Kansas. Again business driven. And you're not handing out cash incentives to grow the business but you're creating the infrastructure. For business to operate successfully in south central Kansas he's like you've got some really use strong reminder is strong people and looking for some creativity and all this right. I would definitely. You know we work with the economic development offices within the counties and some of the cities in the region. We really need the business and industries themselves to show up and to be part of the conversations and may have for the most part I think we could certainly get more. At the table. But we don't do a good job in the public sector of meeting the needs of business we don't clearly understand what they are. Break is an opportunity for business leaders. Plant managers CE those folks who you know have a hard time sleeping at night because are worried about what's gonna happen in the business the next day. We want to get those folks to share that information with us so we can make decisions and create policy that'll help them grow their business are. I tense since that time has flown by wow. Yeah how we maybe maybe discretion servicemen have kept had become but hey if you're happy he's doing any time and really appreciate the opportunity Steve all right and again it's a regional approach to economic development it's called reaped. Our guest is key flowing. Senior administrator for the regional economic area partnership we Colin reed. That's all for this edition of issues too funny sixteen it will be back next week thank you for listing I'm Steve Macintosh.

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