Positive Momentum in 2014
At the last City Commission meeting for 2014, Mayor Greg Woodyard encouraged us to take time to look at the positive things that are taking place in our community. With that in mind, here is a look back at some of the business activity we have seen.
In January, Hi-Lo Industries was involved in the construction of a new building next to their current production facility in the Safari Industrial Park. At that time the metal framework was up and exterior walls were being added to the building.
Also in January, Dr. Ryan Jones’ new chiropractic office on South Santa Fe was under construction with the framing finished, walls up and roof on top at that time.
In February, Contractors Cartage began moving into the former Oil Patch building at 603 East Main. The business grew quickly and by summer they had about 20 employees. That same month, Tony Masters received approval for a Neighborhood Revitalization Project and he built a new retail store at Tony’s Lawn Care. HAS Realty also received approval for a Neighborhood Revitalization application to build a new home in the Osa Martin Heights subdivision.
By March, a new home in the Sunset addition was being constructed by utilizing the NRP. Chanute Area Chamber of Commerce and Chanute Regional Development Authority partnered to host a program with the Kansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center. They joined together to help local businesses learn how bid and gain access to local, state and federal government contracting opportunities. Since the beginning of the program, two businesses have been involved in new bidding opportunities, and several more are receiving additional information on the program from PTAC staff.
In April, representatives from Country Place Living joined with the hospital, as well as city and county leaders to break ground for the new assisted living and memory care development at 7th & Osa Martin Boulevard. About this time, staff members from Compressor Systems Inc. were settling in at their new office location in Chanute at 1226 South Steuben, the former Floor Connections building. Plus Cora Finley moved her store Consignment-Affordable Style across the street to her new location at 113 East Main. This project was also assisted by the City’s Revolving Loan Fund.
Slidewayz Productions, a new automotive repair and small engine repair shop, received assistance from the City’s Revolving Loan Fund to open a shop at 308 South Forest.
Also in April, Travis West was approved for a Neighborhood Revitalization project to remodel and convert a vacant home into a rental property.
Neosho County Community College, CRDA and the Chamber of Commerce teamed up for the second year in a row to host an Entrepreneurship Investigation (ESI) program for middle school students in May. The program helps expose young entrepreneurs to the idea of owning and operating their own business. The program includes information on how to create a business plan, apply for a loan, develop a product or service and then repay the loan.
By June, Dr. Jones’ chiropractic office was finished. Construction started on a new home for Tri-Valley Developmental Services in the Osa Martin Heights subdivision. The home was built by Advanced Systems Homes, and was finished in July. Nearby, Country Place Living was starting construction on the new assisted living and memory care buildings. Heavy equipment was moved in and the dirt work began.
In July, Catty Shack opened in the old Bob’s Café building on West Main Street offering a tasty variety of menu items and wonderful hamburgers.
In August, another new business opened its doors. Stockman Grooming and Training opened at 818 South Lincoln. Chanute also welcomed over 30 community and business leaders to the 2nd Annual Allies Day event in August. The day was spent recognizing local businesses and new developments, along with tours of Advanced Systems Homes and LaRue Machine Inc.
Estella Tasche opened Soma Body Therapy in September in the Mercantile Building at 115 East Main Street. That same month, Midwest Fertilizer began demolishing motel rooms at the former Holiday Park Motel on South Santa Fe. Construction will resume at this site in early 2015 as Midwest works to turn the old hotel into an office and regional training center for their company.
October brought another new business to the Mercantile Building when the Bella Roma Italian Restaurant opened their doors. HAS Real Estate was approved for a second Neighborhood Revitalization project in October. They used it for the construction of another home adjacent to the Osa Martin Heights subdivision. Another group of local business people also received approval for an NRP to remodel another home to be utilized for a rental property.
In November, the temperature began to drop, but so did the unemployment numbers. According to the Kansas Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in Neosho County in October of this year was 4.9 percent and in November it was 5.1 percent. These figures have greatly decreased since January’s rate of 7.1 percent, and have dropped near the levels that the community saw back in early 2008.
Finally, to end on another positive note, a report was released in December that ranked Chanute among the top 20 communities in Kansas for young families. The story was reported in the Chanute Tribune. According to the NerdWallet, an online financial advice service, three factors were measured relating to the best choices for where to raise children. They looked at our schools, housing affordability and median household income for 2012. Considering these three factors, Chanute ranked 18th in the state.
With all of the growth and business developments that have occurred in our community this year, as well as the expansion of existing industries such as Hi Lo Industries, HBD Thermoid and Spirit AeroSystems, there have been about 70 new jobs created in 2014.
Looking forward we have already have commitments for approximately 65 new jobs in 2015 with several projects pending with local businesses and prospective new businesses. We have also been contacted about a new project slated for 2016.
While it’s easy to get down about some of the negative things that happen in our community and in our lives, it’s always good to reflect on the positives that have occurred. As we prepare to begin a new year, take a moment to think about all of the tremendous achievements we have made as a community in 2014.