Commissioners review job description for economic development administrator

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Leavenworth County commissioners are looking to hire an economic development administrator for the county.

Commissioners reviewed a job description for what would be a new position in the county government when they met last week. The job description was prepared by County Administrator Mark Loughry.

Loughry said the position will not be filled until after the first of the year. But the county administrator suggested he may start recruiting for the position this year because the person who takes the job may need time to wrap projects he or she is working in a current position.

When preparing the county government's 2022 budget, commissioners set aside $160,000 with the idea of using the money for the new position.

The money will come from a source that traditionally has been used to provide funding for the Leavenworth County Port Authority and Leavenworth County Development Corporation.

Commissioners will provide $149,000 in funding to the two agencies in 2022. But this is a decrease from the more than $200,000 in funding that was provided for 2021.

The Port Authority requested $208,590 in funding for 2022. LCDC made a request for $90,629 in funding from the county for 2022.

Commissioner Mike Stieben said last week that the new economic development administrator will be able to work with the Port Authority and LCDC. He argued this will allow for more of a team approach for economic development than there has been in the past.

"We're not writing those organizations off," he said. "We want to enhance what they're doing."

Commission Chairman Mike Smith called the creation of the new position the next step in economic development for the county. If the county does not change anything, he said, the outcomes will remain the same.

Most commissioners are supportive of the new position, but Commissioner Vicky Kaaz has expressed opposition to the idea.

"I don't even think we need this position," Kaaz said during last week's meeting.

The job description lists a number of duties for the new economic development administrator.

Among the duties is assuming "full management responsibility for all economic development services and activities including community vitality and efforts to expand the local economy." The person who fills the position also will be asked to act as a "catalyst to both expand the economic vitality of the County and assist existing businesses in their efforts to remain in the County." The person also will be responsible for developing a county marketing plan and negotiate development agreements related to economic development activities.

Other duties include serving as a "liaison to the various communities that comprise the County" and building "supportive and trusted relationships within the County including community leaders in each of our communities."

The job description indicates the economic development administrator will be required to live in what is designated as the Kansas City-Overland Park Combined Statistical Area or within a 30-mile radius of the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

Kaaz argued the person who takes the position should be willing to move to Leavenworth County if he or she is trying to bring businesses to the county.

Loughry recommended against requiring the person to live in Leavenworth County.

"You are going to severely limit the number of people who are interested," he said.

He said people who already live in the Kansas City area probably will not be interested in the job if they are required to move.

Stieben said he agrees with the sentiments expressed by Kaaz. But Stieben said he does not want a residency requirement to be what stops the county from recruiting the best person for the job.

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