Chamber Committee To Develop Economic Development Model

The Riley County Commission will put a half-cent sales tax to the voters in the November election. If passed the County will use 42 percent for Road and Bridge repair. Other Riley County communities will get 2 percent and the City of Manhattan would receive 56 percent for Economic Development.

The Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce has started a committee called the Economic Development Model Task Force to look at how the City should use the money. The Committee held an organizational meeting Wednesday morning.

Economic Development Model Task Force Members are: Nelson Galle, Gary Greer, George Ham, Nancy Knopp, Jeff Levin, Sue Maes, Bill Muir, Debbie Nuss, Carl Reed, Steve Shields, Bruce Snead, Michael Wilds, Don Wissman, Ex-Officio members are: Ron Fehr, City of Manhattan, Stan Morgan, Riley County, Lyle Butler, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce.

Here is a letter the Chamber sent to the City last month asking the City to appoint three members:

Dear Bruce,

The Riley County Commissioners are placing on the ballot this November a proposed one-half cent replacement sales tax. The proposed revenue would be split between the county and the city with the county’s portion designated for roads and bridges and the city’s portion to be designated for economic development. We are pleased that County Commission Chairman Bob Newsome and the rest of the County Commissioners are providing an opportunity for the community to decide on this important issue.

It appears from the Chamber perspective that the passage of this sales tax is of critical importance to the future prosperity of the area. Continued population decline in the county, a rapidly declining public school population and government revenue shortfalls, if not corrected, will ultimately result in a serious decline in the quality-of-life that all of us here in Manhattan and Riley County have learned to enjoy and in fact take for granted.

From the 2001 Manhattan Mayors’ Special Committee on Economic Development, a diverse committee coming from various backgrounds and political persuasions came to a unanimous conclusion:

"A community’s quality-of-life level is greatly determined by its economic wealth. A large and diverse tax base, the existence of well-paying, high skilled jobs, and the education infrastructure needed to provide the skilled labor pool are critical to increasing a community’s economic wealth. A well planned, targeted, controlled and adequately funded economic development effort leveraging Manhattan’s strengths while shoring up its weaknesses is key to increasing our community’s economic wealth."

Based on the above community concerns, the recommendations of the Mayors’ Special Committee on Economic Development and the formal ending of MED OFAB, the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce is establishing a broad-base committee to make recommendations for the governance and a model for the eventual use of sales tax revenue that is being considered for our community’s economic development efforts.