By Murrel Bland
The best paying jobs in Kansas are in Wyandotte County. However, when it comes to jobs that Wyandotte County residents hold, Wyandotte County ranks only 83 out of 105 counties. Much of Greg Kindle’s efforts are focused on closing that gap. Kindle is the president of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council.
The average annual household income in Wyandotte County is slightly more than $41,000. Kindle hopes to increase that amount to the Kansas state average of about $55,000 a year.
That was the message that Kindle delivered when he spoke to about 75 members of the Congressional Forum at a luncheon Friday, Aug. 17 at Children’s Mercy Park. The Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the forum.
Kindle cited the success his organization has had in attracting new and expanded business during the past 25 years with more than 423 projects that resulted in $5.6 billion in capital investment that resulted in more than 27,000 new jobs. Wyandotte County affords about 100,000 jobs.
One of Kindle’s major challenges is finding qualified workers from Wyandotte County—the broad area called workforce development. Kindle and his staff make extensive calls on Wyandotte County businesses to determine how they can assist. His agency is funded by private and public funds.
Kindle identified five areas where there are major challenges.
- Many of the potential employees are immigrants. Businesses can solve this problem by developing English as a second language classes.
- Criminal history. Non-violent offenders who have been rehabilitated can be productive workers.
- Transit opportunities. Operating the Area Transportation Authority business is expensive. Although the ATA bus service in Kansas City, Kansas, has been relatively successful, other creative transportation methods need to be developed.
- Post-secondary education. It will be important for public and private educational institutions to train a workforce that is computer savvy.
- Forty percent of those seeking jobs in Wyandotte County identify reasonably priced child care as an issue. The Family Conservancy and the United Way of Wyandotte County are seeking a solution to this matter.
Kindle said he expects ground to be broken this fall on the new American Royal complex just west of the Legends Outlet. He said private sector fund-raising that will complement public funds is moving ahead.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.