PITTSBURG — “Economic development is in it’s infancy in Pittsburg. Yet, the potential for economic growth is high,” the preface of a study by Angelou Economics says.
The City of Pittsburg hired the Austin, Texas, based company for $70,000 last May to do an economic study. The point of the study, released at the end of 2016, was for the city to better understand what types of companies would be a good fit for Pittsburg.
“It really helped us narrow our focus on the types of businesses that we should be recruiting,” said Blake Benson, Pittsburg economic development director.
The 71-page document recommends the city attract more jobs in manufacturing, healthcare, retail and entertainment as well as creative and technical services. Additionally, the economic report lists short, medium and long term goals to attract new businesses.
Benson said the work is already underway to achieve those goals. Goals have been divvied up between the city, the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Pittsburg State University and its Center for Innovation and Business.
Among the goals is a $49,000 website overhaul by Limelight Marketing, approved by the Pittsburg City Commission last week. The new website, expected to launch in April or May, will be better for residents and potential new businesses, Benson said.
Angelos Angelou, founder and CEO of Angelou Economics, said the study took several months and is not meant to be the “Bible,” but give guidance for future economic growth.
The founder said the city’s supply of water, a small town with a robust university, diverse group of companies as well as the quality of life and cost of living “is attractive.”
He also recognized the highly touted Kansas Technology Center and Kansas Polymer Research Center as “world class” assets.
The two negatives, he said, were that the city is not on an interstate highway and more expensive housing compared to other communities in the region.
“One would almost have to do a small study to ascertain why does housing cost more in this community than in the region,” Angelou said, adding the price was high to own a home and for rentals.
The study showed the median rent is 34.8 percent of household income during 2014. The figure was the highest when compared to four other cities, the closest was Brookings, South Dakota with 32.6 percent.
Brookings has a similar population as Pittsburg along with a university of comparable size.
Part of the housing problem could be addressed by Pointe Royale, which is seeking to make an affordable housing development in Pittsburg.
In all, Angelou felt the city was poised for economic growth in the future.
“I think there is the will and desire in the city of Pittsburg to take it to the next level,” he said.
The entire report can be viewed on the city’s website, pittks.org.
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.