Town meeting Thursday for city economic growth plan

By JoEllen Black/Richmond News

One of the first steps to creating an economic development plan for the city of Richmond starts Thursday with a community-wide meeting.

Richmond residents are invited to hear and discuss an economic plan by Zimmer Real Estate Services for the future of Richmond from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 at Richmond City Gym, adjacent to City Hall. Zimmer’s Troy Nash will lead the presentation along with former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes and former state economic development director Kelvin Simmons.

Richmond Council approved a $43,000 a year contract with Kansas City-based Zimmer for economic development in November 2013. The company created a strategic economic development plan for the city of Marshall and Saline County last year.

In its contract, Zimmer states it will work with the city’s steering committee to establish goals and a work plan to guide an economic plan to completion. Zimmer will utilize staff to have “community conversations” and involve stakeholders that could be involved in the growth of the community.

After the community meeting, Zimmer representatives will interview Richmond residents to really get a “feel” for the community – from that and other surveys, City Administrator Ron Brohammer said.  From that data, Zimmer will analysis the town’s strengths and weaknesses, its opportunities and demographics to create a plan the city can execute with the help of the firm.

In his talk in April 2013, Nash emphasized seeking risk-takers, innovators and entrepreneurs to create and expand businesses, identifying available land for development and creating a business plan that showcases the strengths of Richmond. He also stressed regionalism and partnership with the private and public sector. He says this approach will better help the Midwest regain lost manufacturing jobs.

The goal, Brohammer said, it to bring commerce to the area and aid in retention of current businesses.

“I hope no one gets the idea that we’ll have a Fortune 500 Company knocking on our door tomorrow or even next week or next year, but we need to find out what we have, what we want and let folks know who we are,” he said. “In a newspaper editorial the other day George Will said, “Capital goes where it is wanted; it does not go where it is not wanted.”  Although simplistic, I think this is very profound.  I believe, I hope, we want capital to come to Richmond – we need to let people know that and invite it here – the right kind, of course.  I believe this undertaking will help us do just that.”


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