DKEDC Hosts Investor Annual Meeting

Monday, August 22, 2022

Main News Photo

ABILENE REFLECTOR CHRONICLE- ABILENE, KANSAS:  The Dickinson County Economic Development Corporation met with their investors last night to show their appreciation. A presentation about Kansas’ economy by Jeremy Hill, director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research in Wichita State University, followed dinner and awards.

After dinner, Kent Campbell, director of the DKEDC, gave a short presentation on economic numbers in Dickinson County from 2018 to December of 2021. 429 jobs were retained or created. 73 were retained. 356 were created, 83 by new businesses and 273 by existing businesses. DKEDC has assisted 425 businesses. For projects, 561 have been started. 28 projects are currently being worked on. 24 new businesses have been produced as products of these projects. The total investment, which is the reinvestment DKEDC projects have made back into the county’s economy, is $52,991,612.51. $16,230,750 of the total is from new businesses. $35,760,882.51 is from existing businesses.

“We’re really on par with a lot of counties that you wouldn’t think of that are struggling to meet these numbers,” Campbell said about the total investment.

Doug Smart, treasurer of the DKEDC, presented the awards to the various businesses the corporation wanted to recognize. Discs Unlimited won the Small Business of the Year award. The Garfield Living Center won Emerging Business of the Year award. Agri Trails Coop won Expansion of the Year. Memorial Health System won Large Business of the Year. Dickinson County won Community Impact. Grant Waite, member of the 2021-2022 Dickinson County CEO class, presented the Dickinson County CEO Inspiring Business award to Astra Bank.

Jeremy Hill then gave his presentation on the Kansas economy and how the global economy and Russia Invasion is affecting Kansas. He started by looking at the economy from the perspectives of households, businesses and governments.

Starting with inflation, Hill said the main causes for inflation to be so high in the Midwest is energy and supply chain issues. He said inflation should decrease as energy prices decrease which they have been and should continue to do so.

Households now are in a good position in the market, Hill said, because wages are higher and a large group of people shifted to higher paying, improved jobs, Hill said. The shift has caused the shortage of workers in retail industries. Hill said his solution would be to get the younger generations, such as Gen-Z, into the workforce to fill those jobs. Currently, younger generations are not working through high school and college as Baby Boomers did. Overall, households have power over businesses because businesses are in need of workers and are increasing pay and benefits to attract workers.

While some businesses are struggling to find workers, demand for products is much higher then in previous years, Hill said. Businesses can’t meet the demand because they can’t hire enough workers though. Businesses across the United States are reaching record profits and generally have higher profits, so businesses are raising wages and taking out the cost from their higher profits and other ways.

“That’s why although they’re complaining about the costs, they’re complaining about the quality of labor, the reality is they’re still growing and doing well, and they’re probably having record years,” Hill said.

For the supply chain, Hill said the chain’s issues are improving, and they should subside in 12 months.

The trend of rising housing prices is a “great revenue driver,” Hill said for governments. In Kansas, Hill said housing prices might be too low based on comparing the national housing affordability index to the Kansas index. If prices are raised, builders can then justify building more middle to low income homes since the cost of building has increased as well. Overall, house prices will probably stay this high, but possible decrease a little bit.

Retail sales are up because households are doing so well currently, Hill said. Households have been shifting from spending on retail to services. Retail sales should remain strong as long as inflation does not break from the buying power.

Moving to the Russian invasion on Ukraine, Hill said the invasion has not affected Kansas economically, from being partners in trade to being competitors.

Lastly, Hill moved to whether he thought a large recession is in the future. Overall, while there are signs of a recession coming, he said he expects either a slow, flat economy or a small recession followed by the economy bouncing back.

“I’ve been noted as the ‘duke of doom and gloom’ for the last decade, but Kansas’ economy has not been doing great the last decade. The last three years I’ve been much more positive because our fundamentals in this state have been a lot more positive,” Hill said in ending his presentation. “Really, they called me negative because just I was giving you the news of reality that people were doing poorly, but now we’re going to look a whole lot better because the fundamentals, our drivers, are looking better than the nation today.”

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