Port Authority discusses mission

John Richmeier

Historically, the Leavenworth County Port Authority has supported manufacturing and the development of other industrial businesses.

But Port Authority Chairman Greg Kaaz said the question of whether the Port Authority should support retail businesses in the county keeps coming up.

Kaaz raised the issue Tuesday during a work session of the Port Authority’s Board of Directors.

“Should we continue supporting what we’ve done (in the past)?” he said. “Should we add to it?”

The Port Authority is a quasi-governmental organization that focuses on economic development. The Port Authority’s board members are appointed by Leavenworth County and local city governments.

The Port Authority receives most of its funding through the county government.

Vice Chairman Dan Gutshall said the retail question has come up during the more than 30 years he has been involved with the Port Authority. He said the general consensus has been that the Port Authority supports retail growth, but it is not a priority for the organization.

Gutshall said an industrial business that moves into Leavenworth County does not have competitors in the area. But retail businesses have competition within the county.

He said providing an incentive for one retail business may make it appear as though the Port Authority feels other retailers in the area are not critical.

Port Authority board member Vernon Fields said he hears about focusing on attracting high-paying jobs. But Fields said attracting any job to the community is better than no jobs.

Port Authority board member Dirck Hoagland said the board needs to be careful when it comes to retail projects.

“We don’t want to hurt our existing businesses that are already in our area,” he said.

Kaaz also raised the question of whether the Port Authority should look at what it can do to support contractors who do business with Fort Leavenworth.

Kaaz said the fort is a major economic engine for the county. Kaaz said he would rather have contractors locating in Leavenworth County than in Platte County, Missouri.

Kaaz also asked if the Port Authority should consider supporting residential development in the county.

During Tuesday’s meeting, board members reviewed a Program of Work document that was prepared for the Port Authority in 2012. The document states the mission and vision for the Port Authority as well as information about the work of the organization.

Steve Jack noted that many of the names of the people listed in the document are out of date.

Jack is the executive director of the Leavenworth County Development Corporation, which is a partner organization of the Port Authority.

Jack said he can easily update the document with the names of the people who are now associated with the Port Authority. Jack said he also can make other updates based on the discussion during Tuesday’s meeting.

Jack said he can send out a draft to Port Authority board members in a couple of weeks to get their feedback.

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