Economic development

Wichita downtown boom could be over before it starts

As Wichita moves towards the release of the plan for the revitalization of its downtown, urban planners -- both local and out-of-town -- tell us that there's a big demand for downtown living. People are tired of suburban living, they say. The recent draft presentation by the city's planning firm Goody Clancy contained bullet points like "who favor living and working in vibrant downtowns" and "and they are part of broad demographic trends that are much more 'downtown friendly' ...e.g., almost two-thirds of Wichita‚Äôs households include just one or two people." Or, as "uber-geographer" Joel Kotkin wrote in the Wall…
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In Kansas Legislature, a bad year for freedom and liberty

It was a bad year for economic freedom in the Kansas Legislature. There were the big votes that most people know of -- the big-spending budget, the increase in the sales tax, and the statewide smoking ban -- but the legislature passed -- and the governor signed -- many other laws that chip away at personal liberty and economic freedom. The following list contains many of these bills. This list was produced by Bob Corkins of Kansas Votes, a project of the Kansas Policy Institute. It contains only bills that were enacted into law. There were, of course, some bad…
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Hayek’s star on the rise, sometimes

Partly due to Glenn Beck's interest, a book and its ideas is receiving increased attention. F.A. Hayek is the author, and The Road to Serfdom is the book. Personally, I find the book difficult to read. An example of Hayek's writing is from the jacket notes prepared by the author himself: "The economic freedom which is the prerequisite of any other freedom cannot be the freedom from economic care which the socialists promise us and which can be obtained only by relieving the individual at the same time of the necessity and of the power of choice: it must be…
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Wichita downtown master plan meetings scheduled

Recently planning firm Goody Clancy presented the master plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita. This plan is in "draft" form, meaning that input is being solicited, with revisions appearing in the final version expected to be ready in September. In order that citizens may become familiar with the draft plan, the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, the City of Wichita, and Visioneering Wichita will present the plan at a series of community meetings. The schedule is: July 7: Atwater Neighborhood City Hall (2755 E. 19th St. N.) July 8: Evergreen Library (2601 N. Arkansas) July 12: Haysville Public Library (210…
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Wichita should follow Lawrence’s lead in tax warnings

Is there a point where sales taxes become so high that consumers need to be warned? Sales tax is already high in the northeast Kansas college town of Lawrence, home to the University of Kansas Jayhawks. After July 1, the combined sales tax rate -- state, county, and city -- will be 8.85 percent. Lawrence has two districts where an extra one cent per dollar is added to that. Like Wichita, Lawrence is considering creating Community Improvement Districts, where merchants add up to another two cents per dollar in sales tax. The proceeds of that extra sales tax go to…
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Letters on Wichita Bowllagio

Letters recently appeared in the Wichita Eagle regarding the proposed Bowllagio project, a west side entertainment destination. Bowllagio is planned to have a bowling and entertainment center, a boutique hotel, and a restaurant owned by a celebrity television chef. The developers of this project propose to make use of $13 million in STAR bond financing. STAR bonds are issued for the immediate benefit of the developers, with the sales tax collected in the district used to pay off the bonds. The project also proposes to be a Community Improvement District, which allows an additional two cents per dollar to be…
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Wichita economic development official to speak

This Friday (June 18) Vicki Pratt Gerbino, president of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, will address members and guests of the Wichita Pachyderm Club. The Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, also known as GWEDC, is responsible for economic development in the Wichita area, such as recruitment and retention of "economic driver industries" in Wichita and Sedgwick County. All are welcome to attend Wichita Pachyderm Club meetings. The program costs $10, which includes a delicious buffet lunch including salad, soup, two main dishes, and ice tea and coffee. The meeting starts at noon, although it's recommended to arrive fifteen minutes…
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Wichita Bowllagio hearing produces only delay

Yesterday's meeting of the Wichita City Council featured a lengthy public hearing for a proposed west-side entertainment development known as Bowllagio. Bowllagio is planned to have a bowling and entertainment center, a boutique hotel, and a restaurant owned by a celebrity television chef. The developers of this project propose to make use of $13 million in STAR bond financing. STAR bonds are issued for the immediate benefit of the developers, with the sales tax collected in the district used to pay off the bonds. The project also proposes to be a Community Improvement District, which allows an additional two cents…
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Wichita Warren Theater groundbreaking raises policy issues

Friday's groundbreaking of a new Warren Theater and renovation of the existing theater in west Wichita provide an opportunity to revisit some of the public policy issues surrounding Wichita city government and its intervention in the economy in the name of economic development. Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and Vice Mayor Jeff Longwell claim that the economic development incentives or subsidies offered to Warren do not cost Wichita taxpayers anything. Reading comments left to stories at various media outlets, there is definitely a problem with citizens understanding the nature of the city's industrial revenue bond program. There is no money being…
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Southwest Airlines topic of Wichita Eagle article

Sunday's Wichita Eagle carried a story featuring local elected officials' reaction to the possibility that Southwest Airlines would start service to Wichita. (City, county officials cautiously weigh subsidy for Southwest Airlines, May 30, 2010) A source of controversy is over the payments of public funds that are thought to be necessary to acquire the service. The Eagle article quotes an unnamed source as saying it would take about $3 million in public funds to "get the service up and running." It is not disclosed whether this is a one-time requirement, or if this is $3 million per year for some…
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