A few things to feel good about

A tip of our cap to these developments

By The Mercury

We’d like to tip our cap to a few encouraging recent developments, two in Manhattan and one in Topeka:

•First, we note with obvious pleasure the expansion at Florence Manufacturing, a Manhattan company that plans to add 100 production jobs. Florence expects to employ more than 400 people here after the expansion, which is expected to be finished in the late fall.

Florence makes centralized mailboxes for apartment complexes. The company built its plant here in 2002, encouraged by a $781,000 grant and an $80,000 “forgivable loan” from the city government.  The deal at the time was that the company had to keep its workforce above 250. In 2009, the company cut 86 jobs because of the recession, but employment remained above 250. So to see 100 jobs being added, and the company investing $7 million in its local plant, is particularly gratifying.

Said company president John Allstadt: “We’re also enthusiastic about where our business is going overall with interesting opportunities ahead.”

Sounds good to us.


•Second, the “Taste of Downtown” event this week highlighted the positive vibe around downtown Manhattan. Driven largely by CivicPlus owner Ward Morgan and his desire to have an active downtown, that area of Manhattan has recently seen a flowering of restaurants. Among those involved in the festival were newcomers Hibachi Hut, Bourbon & Baker, Radina’s Bakehouse, Karnivore Bar and BBQ, Hazel Hill Chocolate, 4 Olives and 4 Cakes. We’d be remiss not to note the participation of downtown restaurant stalwarts Harry’s, dellaVoce, AJ’s Pizzeria and Old Chicago.

The event was also a fundraiser for the Little Apple Optimist Club, which sold out of tickets in 74 hours. About 300 people came. “People are excited and curious about the ever-changing environment downtown,” said Blake Mages, a member of the Optimists.

Count us among them.


•Third, to veer briefly out of town and into politics, we’re pleased to see that Scott Morgan is challenging Kris Kobach in the Republican primary for the office of Secretary of State.

Mr. Kobach, the incumbent, has led the charge on fundamentally anti-immigrant policies that have been ill-conceived and have brought negative attention to the state. We are familiar with Mr. Morgan from a long record of public involvement. We like the fact that he worked on the staffs of Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum, traditional Kansas Republican officeholders . He has also worked on the Federal Elections Commission; that’s relevant experience when running the Secretary of State’s office, which is in charge of elections.

Given Republicans’ advantage in terms of registered voters in the state, it’s our guess that the most likely way to move Kobach out of office is for Republicans themselves to have a good option to choose from in their primary. At least on the surface, Mr. Morgan seems to provide that.

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