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Dec 04

Housing Is Part of Economic Development

Posted on December 4, 2013 at 3:47 PM by Murray McGee

This week, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and representatives from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation met to discuss the role of “housing” in economic development. 

As we work to increase employment opportunities and attract new people to our community, we need a good housing inventory for them to make Chanute their home. We also need to provide more opportunities for current residents to step up from the rental market into home ownership and when the time is right for them, to upgrade to a new or newer home for their families.

The Chanute Regional Development Authority recently took a survey that provided a snap shot of the housing market in Chanute. We looked at homes that are currently listed for sale through the local multi-listing service and asked our realtors to reply to a simple survey tool. The results provided a small snap shot of the homes that were for sale within the past few weeks. 

What we found was not all that surprising. Out of the 74 homes we reviewed only 6 were built within the past 30 years. The newest homes were two that were built in 2004. 

Of the 74 homes we looked at, 25 were under $50,000 and those were built between 1910 and 1956. Another 24 homes were built in the $51,000 to $70,000 range and with the exception of one built in 2004 the rest were built between 1910 and 1978. 

Even at the top of the market in the $200,000 to $300,000 range there were 6 homes on the market that were built between 1967 and 1995.

One of our largest home builders indicated they have constructed 7 new homes in the past 5 years in Chanute. 

Now take into consideration some changes that are occurring within our workforce. Over the summer Hi Lo Industries added 50 new jobs and today they are working on an 82,000 square foot expansion and plan to add 60 more jobs over the next 10 years. Spirit AeroSystems continues to add to their workforce.

Renewable Concepts started manufacturing components for wind turbines and at last check was up to 11 employees for this new venture. In February a new business is moving to Chanute that will be creating 14-18 new jobs to begin with and hopefully they will continue to grow here for years to come. 

In the Spring, construction is planned for a multi-million dollar assisted living and memory care facility. These two facilities will create another 25 full-time and 10 part-time health care jobs.

A commercial business plan is currently being reviewed that could bring a new business and several new jobs to the downtown business district. 

There are at least two other commercial business projects that are planned for the Spring that will also add a few more jobs to our community. 

Some of the jobs will be filled by people who are already here. Others will commute from neighboring communities. (Currently 22% of our workforce commutes from outside Neosho County) Some of the jobs created will be filled by new residents moving to our community. What awaits them are a tight rental market and very limited choices in housing stock. 

The current survey information we have provides us with some basic information and was only a snap shot in time. Still with approximately 5,000 households in Chanute it is a concern to see only 74 on the market for sale at a given time. 

As the Governor and Kansas Housing Resources Corporation discuss “housing and economic development” we are also looking at the vital role that housing plays in our local economic development efforts in Chanute.