Growth.

That is the operative word for the near future of Leavenworth County.

According to several civic leaders, the outlook is optimistic for the county for the next 10 years.

“Leavenworth County will continue to be a great option for businesses and individuals as more and more housing construction takes place in all parts of the county,” said Steve Jack, executive director of the Leavenworth County Development Corporation. “Certainly, the major road projects undertaken by the county will open up more areas for development, particularly residential.”

Jack said business parks located in Leavenworth and Tonganoxie “will likely be reaping benefits to the county from additional businesses and the employment opportunities they bring.”

He said that with a broadening of the tax base, cities in the county will be better able to invest in infrastructure improvements and quality of life features.

“I anticipate seeing significant industrial, commercial and residential growth by 2028,” said Tim Vandall, city administrator for the city of Lansing. “I believe Leavenworth County’s proximity to the metro will continue to make it appealing to businesses and individuals. Significant transportation thoroughfares like 24/40, K-7 and I-70 make owning, expanding or starting a business in the communities of Leavenworth County appealing.”

The civic leaders said the county has much to offer to make it attractive for business and individuals.

“Being in the middle of America and part of the Kansas City metro area are strengths for business and individuals,” Jack said. 

Jack said the highway system that connects the county with the metro area allows people the ability to choose “what quality of life means to them.”

He said people can live in a smaller community and still have easy access to major sports, arts, music and an international airport.

Jack said another positive about the county is that it has access to an educated and available workforce.

“Families and individuals looking to live in Leavenworth County now have several different housing options such as loft living, maintenance provided homes as well as traditional single family homes,” said Taylour Tedder, assistant city manager for the city of Leavenworth. “High quality schools, access to high-value employment opportunities and recreation activities make Leavenworth County an enjoyable choice for folks to call home.”

Tedder said that businesses have an advantage in the county due to the close proximity to the metro area and highway system. He said businesses have a wide array of incentives to locate in the area based on capital investment and job creation, including tax abatements, loan programs, state performance incentives, grants and other economic incentives.

The population of the county is expected to continue to grow, the civic leaders agree.

Jack said the county grew at a rate of 1.1 percent annually during the last 10 years and has sustained consistent growth for the past 40 years.

He said that rate of growth should expand the county population to about 90,000 in 10 years.

Tedder said demographic data suggest county residents will have an increase in their median household income from $67,904 in 2018 to almost $88,000 in 2028.

Jack said from an economic perspective, the county has a lot of competition for new businesses and jobs.

“Almost every community or county throughout the United States has an economic development effort,” Jack said, “and those efforts often include incentives and other tools to entice new businesses.”

Jack said businesses have a lot of options on where to expand and will look to the availability of labor as a key factor on where to locate new jobs.

“Shovel-ready land is also in short supply in many communities but has become a strength in Leavenworth County with our two new business parks,” Jack said.

Jack said K-7 will be a challenge in the next 10 years as a major access point to the rest of the Kansas City area.

“Plans to make it a freeway that allows safe, quick and uninterrupted access to I-70 may take longer than the decade to solve,” he said.

Vandall said the county will need to continue to improve infrastructure as well as provide incentives in order to compete with other counties in the metro area.

“It will be even more important in the future for all communities in Leavenworth County to work together when seeking funding and other assistance from the state and federal governments as competition with like-minded regions continues to intensify,” he said.

Tedder said a primary challenge for the county will be infrastructure maintenance to include aging roads, water lines, sewer lines and storm water systems.