Chamber shares development plans

By Maura Wery

In the aftermath of voter renewal of the sales tax, officials of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce shared their plans for expansion and economic development with the Riley County Commission Thursday.

John Pagen, the Chamber’s vice president of economic development, told commissioners that businesses within the city of Manhattan have made around $180,000 a day more this year than last year, and he doesn’t see that growth slowing down.

“I have had an increase of inquiries from site selectors, and we are getting a lot of uptick in that,” Pagen said. He also said that when there is actual infrastructure being built out of the ground on the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, interest will increase.

Pagen said one unidentified business with interest in locating here will make that decision in the next few weeks. The state Department of Agricultural will also be deciding whether Manhattan will be the site of its new headquarters. Pagen said that because of NBAF and the major research hubs created by K-State, Manhattan remains a frontrunner for that department.

Overall, Pagen said the chamber has seen many signs of growth in Manhattan. He said that includes interest in the call center sites in the Tech Park and businesses expressing need for growth both in workforce and infrastructure.

Community corrections

Shelly Williams, community corrections director, told the commission about improvements she and her staff will be making to a job club the department has for offenders.

The program helps unemployed offenders and unemployed juvenile offenders under the age of 17 gain the skills necessary to gain and retain employment.

Williams said her office is adding an eight-week rolling curriculum to the program that will help offenders get proper documentation, teach them interviewing and retention skills, and give them the chance to receive employment.

Williams said that the program will help these offenders “really put their best foot forward.”


Health department

With the first confirmed case of flu being reported in Kansas this week, Health Department director Susie Kufahl said there have been 3,000 flu shots given out by the department so far.

Kufahl said that the department has 25 clinics within Riley County where shots can be given.

“We try to promote the clinics,” Kufahl said. “They give us a chance to build a little revenue.”

Kufahl also gave an update on the pertussis situation in Riley County. She said 674 shots have been given out, and encouraged people over the age of 14 to receive another booster or the TDAP shot to reduce the spread of the disease.

Kufahl also updated the commission on a block grant that the department will be applying for. She said the grant comes from funds from a tobacco settlement, with distribution to be decided Dec. 1.

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