As I wrap up my second year in Southwest Johnson County, I am proud to report prosperity and positive economic development continues to maintain a brisk pace at New Century AirCenter and in the cities of Gardner, Edgerton and Spring Hill.
Over the past year, the Southwest Johnson County EDC submitted 33 Requests for Information (RFIs) to companies interested in doing business in the region. These RFIs resulted in $335 million in new investment, three million square feet of new projects and 2,500 jobs.
Project activity and interest in Southwest Johnson County is not slowing down in the first quarter of 2017. There are several new projects close to announcement, including “Project Butler.” The company has a lease signed and is making a significant retrofit of the former Kimberly Clark building and will create 600 full time jobs.
Gardner saw a significant amount of development activity in 2016. Highlights included the announcement of a 300-acre, mixed-use retail and industrial development at I-35 and 175th Street, a development agreement for Kansas Logistics Center which will create up to 2 million square feet of industrial space, and the opening of Orscheln Farm Home’s new retail store located on 19 acres.
Adding to the momentum for Gardner is the recent unanimous approval by the Gardner Planning Commission of a new Hampton Inn Hotel and Conference Center near the southeast corner of Cedar Niles Road and East Santa Fe Street. Pending full council approval, the hotel is targeted to open in 2018.
Product and facility expansions made headlines at New Century AirCenter in 2016, with Kerry Ingredients adding 30 new jobs through a $5 million product line expansion and Unilever undergoing a 100,000 square foot cold storage expansion.
Finally, it is no secret that Logistics Park Kansas City continues to dominate the supply chain conversation in the state of Kansas and throughout the entire Midwest region. In 2016, Northpoint Development built more than 2.3 million square feet of space on a speculative basis at LPKC, an investment that resulted in project announcements including Amazon’s new 822,104 square foot large product distribution center with 2,000 new jobs at full output.
When it comes to Southwest Johnson County, the EDC believes that a rising tide truly lifts all boats. Whether a company chooses a location at New Century AirCenter, Logistics Park Kansas City, or within Gardner, Edgerton or Spring Hill proper, the investment creates a multiplier effect for the entire region, creating more tax dollars for better educational opportunities, infrastructure and a critical mass of vibrant and growing companies.
In 2017, the Southwest Johnson County EDC plans to continue to work with our private and public partners to attract new projects and investment to the region, placing particular emphasis on business retention/expansion and workforce development.
We thank our supporters and investors over the past year and look forward to ensuring southwest Johnson County continues its role as a primary economic engine for the state of Kansas and the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area.