The Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation recently teamed up with the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce to form the Greater Manhattan Economic Partnership. The two entities interviewed 45 area human resource managers, plant managers and CEOs to gauge key criteria involving labor, education and training infrastructure, community services or quality of life factors.
Director Jack Allston says the area compared well in terms of wages and cost of living with competing cities and source cities. Wages in the manufacturing, animal health and office and technology sector were a little low compared to the cost of living.
The analysis, conducted between January and July also scored the Manhattan area less than average in terms of skilled labor availability, in particular the construction industry is feeling the pinch especially in the area of higher skilled worker availability.
Allston says his office has determined a number of recommendations moving forward to include a continued focus on working with Network Kansas on small loan programs entrepreneurship opportunities and heavy duty business retention and expansion. Recommendations also include movement and more engagement toward the Pottawatomie County Comprehensive Plan.
Another area of concern for a growing economic base he says is housing.
Other factors hampering recruitment is in the area of child care which scored less than favorable due to either a lack of providers in the area or costs being too high. Allston says the region also has some disadvantages being in a more rural area than most college towns.
One place the area scored well is in the ability to commute to and from Manhattan.
With more housing and more difficulty anticipated over the next several years, Allston there are 16,000 workers commuting into Manhattan daily and a net inflow of 9,500.
Infrastructure improvements that could be discussed over the next decade include a possible bridge over Junietta Road crossing into Riley County, but Riley County Commissioner Marvin Rodriguez opposes the bridge saying it’s for Pottawatomie County officials to decide.
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