Special Committee On Economic Development Reports To Commission


What does the City of Manhattan need to do for future economic development growth? The Special Committee on Economic Development gave these recommendations to the Manhattan City Commission June 12, 2001:

Ask most any Manhattanite why he or she lives in "the Little Apple" and most frequently you will get the response "because I really enjoy the quality-of-life." 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.

The Special Committee on Economic Development was asked to develop recommendations on the role of economic development for the City of Manhattan. To fulfill this charge, the committee undertook the following:

* Reviewed all historical economic development documents and recommendations from prior task forces and committees;

* Studied the successes and shortcomings of previous programs of economic development and enhancement of quality of life;

* Organized a panel presentation of economic development representatives from four communities (in four nearby states) with similarities to Manhattan;

* Facilitated citizen discussion groups based on the panel presentations;

* Conducted and analyzed a broad community-wide survey.

As a result of these steps our Committee has developed the following observations and recommendations.


In general, the community places a high priority on preserving and enhancing those elements that provide the highest quality of life for all residents. These include, but are not limited to, effective local government, quality jobs with corresponding pay, educational opportunities, medical services, cultural and recreational opportunities, a vibrant retail community, and equity in economic opportunities.

The common denominator for encouraging these benefits will be a balanced, vigorous economic climate. Healthy expansion of locally-owned businesses, support for spin-offs from Kansas State University, recruitment of environmentally responsible businesses offering quality, skilled employment opportunities—all will require a community-wide understanding and support for thoughtful economic development policies. To move effectively in this direction, the Committee is offering the following recommendations for community leadership to consider as the basis for taking steps toward their implementation.


The order of recommendations presented below does not connote any ranking.

1. Recognize that infrastructure and appearance of a community augment economic development and that all citizens have a mutual interest in promoting these community attributes

Because quality of life, infrastructure and the physical appearance of a region not only encourage existing and new businesses, but also augments the pride and well being of the citizenry, it is crucial that an economic development effort include the community as a whole. Moreover, generating community support for economic progress requires involvement of all citizens.

Justification (see Attachment A-1 for detail)

* Citywide survey

* Chamber of Commerce Seminar on Economic Development

* Unanimous opinion of Committee

Next Steps

* Ensure that decision-making groups associated with economic development include community members and organizations.

* Encourage property owners to maintain appearance and safety of existing properties via enforcement of existing codes.

* Promote affordable housing to assist retention of existing residents and to provide accommodations for a growing population.

2. Approach economic planning and development from a regional perspective

A regional perspective makes sense because the economic impact of a business transcends geopolitical boundaries. By pooling regional resources (land, capital, workforce, etc.), the likelihood of securing relocations of new businesses would increase.

Justification (see Attachment A-2 for detail)

* Vision 20

* Panel presentations (Ames, Iowa; Pueblo, Colorado)

* Citywide survey

* Unanimous opinion of Committee

Next Steps

* Identify and partner with nearby regional entities with mutual interest

* Create the "starter region"

* Expand the region as further interest or opportunities develop

3. Create an independent economic development entity

An independent economic development entity with input from all community constituent groups will coordinate the efforts of many economic development subgroups (Chamber of Commerce, city offices, county offices, community organizations, Mid-America Commercialization Corporation, etc.) toward a common goal with a consolidated cost structure. The funding for this entity would initially be from contributions from its member groups, with the long-term goal of becoming self-funded through private support and federal grants.

Justification (see Attachment A-3 for detail)

* Vision 20

* Panel presentations (Ames, Iowa; Pueblo, Colorado)

* Citywide survey

* Unanimous opinion of Committee

Next Steps

* Benchmark other such independent agencies (i. e., Pueblo Economic Development Corporation)

* Identify constituent groups

* Develop an operating funding base

4. Pursue an active strategy to diversify and upgrade employment opportunities

This recommendation will require a multi-pronged approach:

* Assist in the special needs of existing businesses to grow

* Assist in the special needs of new businesses to start

* Recruit new environmentally-responsible businesses to the region

* Support the development of KSU research-based industry spin-offs

* Develop opportunities for high quality jobs

This assistance may take the form of providing:

* Developed sites for rapid move-in and/or expansion

* Tax incentives

* Loans

* Job training/workforce upgrading

* Grants

Justification (see Attachment A-4 for detail)

* Vision 20

* MEDOFAB results

* Panel presentations (Ames, Iowa; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Pueblo, Colorado; Waco, Texas)

* Citywide survey

* Unanimous opinion of Committee

Next Steps

* Develop the Master Economic Development Plan with constituent and community input; coordinated with the Community Land Use Plan

* Set budget targets (approximately 1 to 2 million dollars per year based on slow-to-moderate community growth targets)

* Develop funding sources for the development budget (grants, private donations, public support via sales, property and/or intangibles taxes earmarked for quality of life/economic development projects)

5. Communicate with the citizenry regarding the value to Manhattan of current and proposed economic development plans

Typically, the community hears of the economic development failures but not of the successes. Also, many citizens are not aware of the critical role active economic development plays in supporting our community’s quality-of-life.

Justification (see Attachment A-5 for detail)

* Citywide survey

* Unanimous opinion of Committee

Next Steps

* Develop a public information/relations plan to educate and communicate

* Develop a means of obtaining feedback from citizenry