Thursday, September 20, 2012

COMMENTARY: Time to disregard the "only Village West" myth


In the last decade or so in Wyandotte County, there's been an economic transformation.

Out in Village West, a new racing speedway, soccer stadium, shopping center and casino have been built in the last 10 years.

As someone who loves capitalism and economics, seeing Village West each day is one of the best things for me. It's great seeing all of the commerce going on out there.

That said, it's time to end what seems to be a common myth about Village West.

It's not the only place economic development is going on in Wyandotte County.

Having covered the budget this year and other Unified Government meetings, there's been a bit of a Village West backlash from some citizens in the county, believing the rest of the county has been ignored.

On the outside of Wyandotte County, sometimes it feels like the perception is the county was lucky in winning the Kansas Speedway and nothing else was needed.

I will not deny the greatest development in the past decade has been at Village West. You would be lying if you tried to claim other-wise.

However, it's far from the only location of note-worthy development in Wyandotte County.
  • Rosedale is experiencing tremendous economic development. A new hotel recently opened up across the University of Kansas Medical Center last week. The hotel is part of a new development in Rosedale that promises to bring jobs and new business to Wyandotte County. The medical center itself has expanded over the past decade, as well.
  • Nearly $2 billion (that's billion with a "B") has been invested by General Motors in the Fairfax plant. More needs to be done in the Fairfax district overall, but the GM plant is thriving right now and over 3,700 individuals work there.
  • The new downtown transit center, along with the recently groundbroken Midtown Transit Center, could provide Wyandotte County an excellent opportunity to help the economy. Transportation is a major issue in Wyandotte County and this new line could help residents travel to and from their jobs each day.
  • Google Fiber will be coming to over 90 percent of Kansas City, Kan., based on the registration process. Communities out west, down south and in the northeast portion of the county qualified for Google Fiber. This will be a county-wide success story, not just one for the wealthier people out west.
That short list does not include the grocery stores that have been built across the county in the past few years, nor the other family-owned businesses that have been established in Wyandotte County.

Violent crime has decreased significantly county-wide, which helps encourage economic development as well.

The Village West area has been the big winner in Wyandotte County's economic story. There's no question about that.

But it's stretching the truth to suggest Village West is the only benefactor of Wyandotte County's economy. That's not the case.

In order for Wyandotte County's future to become even brighter, property taxes need to come down  and the public school districts need to either continue having success or find additional success.

However, development wise, Wyandotte County is on the right track.