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Something to Think About

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Steve Sauder is president of Emporia's Radio Stations, Inc. the owners of KVOE-AM 1400, Country 101.7 and Mix 104.9. Steve has been in a leadership position with ERS, Inc., since 1987.

January 24, 2018

Happy New Year!  I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and are ready for a successful 2018.  This is Jeanine McKenna, President of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau, and as most years, I have sat down and charted out my goals for the upcoming year, both personally and professionally.  I have thought about what is the best way to make it a successful year for all of our members and the community as a whole.  I have looked back at all we have accomplished, talked to our members and the leadership of the Chamber, and I believe we are in store for a successful and fulfilling year.  I am proud of our office that includes the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and what we accomplish together.  I am happy to have the Regional Development Association in our building as well.  We all work hard to Build Community, Through Business.  I believe that we truly are meeting our mission of being “proactive in creating an environment for business and community success”.

We have members who represent all sectors of our community, each with varying needs to grow and prosper, but in the end, I believe we all want Emporia to be a community in which we can live, work and raise our families. 

We are kicking off the year with a lot of great and dynamic programs.  The Government Matters committee has already traveled to Topeka and delivered our Joint Legislative Agenda.  This is the fourth year that we have come together as the Emporia and Lyon County area, and thirteen entities have joined us in sharing what is important for growth in our communities, business, and region.  This group will also be continuing their Dialogues with our elected officials throughout 2018, so be watching for more information as we draw nearer to each event.

Workforce Development, Leadership Development, and Housing will take center stage this year at the chamber.  Workforces across America are changing and seeing challenges they have never seen before.  According to SHRM (Society for Resource Management) Foundation, 35% of U.S. labor force participants will be over 50 in 2022.  This is up from 25% in 2002.  10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day, and by 2050, the 65-and-older age group is expected to grow by 75%.  The 25-to-54 age group will grow by only 2%. Not only is the workforce aging, but the supply of younger workers is diminishing in comparison. 

Mature workers—generally defined as workers over age 50 or 55—have experience and skills honed during decades of employment. Retaining talented mature workers—and recruiting new ones—is simply good business for most organizations.

A recent study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute predicts that “the U.S. Manufacturing sector is likely to suffer a shortfall of 2 million workers by 2025.  This is a marked increase from the 600,000 jobs that went unfilled in 2011.

The Emporia Area Chamber will focus on several areas related to workforce development to assist the business community in this time of workforce shortages such as addressing the skills gap; bridging the generational gap; and preparing employees to step up when leadership steps down. 

We are uniquely positioned to offer Leadership training in various shapes and forms.  Skill development for aspiring leaders, departments, and companies as a whole.  Consistent feedback through one-one-one coaching as well as group coaching is available to help our members build their teams. 

The workforce in the Emporia Area must have affordable and adequate housing available to them.  The Emporia Area Chamber supports efforts that are being made to increase housing to fit the needs of its current and future citizens. 

I challenge you to look at the most significant economic development and job growth opportunities experienced, and you will find the Chamber’s fingerprints all over it. Whether its providing leadership development, advocating or supporting local business, the chamber is dedicated to helping Build Community through Business.

It is an honor to be a part of this great organization, and to be able to talk to you today.  Thank you, Steve Sauder, and KVOE for this opportunity.  Remember, It's a great day in Emporia; please tell someone! I’m Jeanine McKenna with the Emporia Area Chamber and Visitors Bureau and That is Something to Think About.

January 17, 2017

I’m Ed Bashaw, an Emporia newcomer.  My wife Sara and I moved here in June of 2016 as I came to town to become Dean of the School of Business at Emporia State University.

This has been a great move for us on at least two fronts.  First, Emporia and ESU form the best combination of university and community relationships that I’ve ever experienced.  It is clear to me that both “Town” and “Gown” leaders understand the importance each other plays in building a more thriving community and a more thriving university.  Second, we’ve found Emporia to be a great place to live!  Emporians have been extremely welcoming to us.  We’ve found “Midwestern Hospitality” exceeds “Southern Hospitality” – and I’m a Southerner! 

Because of this hospitality, we’ve been included in many circles.  A good example of this is that I was asked to join Emporians for Growth, the community group advocating for extending the half-cent sales tax for Emporia economic development in last November’s elections.  Emporians overwhelmingly approved the ballot measure.  No doubt many voters recognized the effectiveness of this fund in helping attract new companies and new jobs to Emporia. 

The importance of job growth to our community is clear.  It is well-documented that thriving communities are able to attract new companies from established industries that create more jobs.  They also attract entrepreneurs willing to take risks to start up new enterprises that create new jobs when they are successful. 

Establishing incentives for small businesses, and the entrepreneurs who found and run them, are critical to our community.  The U.S. Census Bureau reports that small businesses in the U.S. account for nearly two/thirds of all private sector jobs.  The creation of new businesses by entrepreneurs is the life-blood of our local economy.  This is a critical area where the interests of Emporia and ESU overlap and where we need Town and Gown leadership.

The School of Business is moving towards a greater emphasis on entrepreneurship. The goal is to create entrepreneurs who stay in Kansas, but more importantly, stay in Emporia!  The popularity of our Elevator Challenge and the Entrepreneurial Challenge (with Flint Hills Technical College) along with my interactions with students lead me to believe the desire to launch startups is strong among ESU students.  

Why don’t more ESU students become entrepreneurs right out of school?  While Emporia State graduates leave school with the least amount of student debt among KBOR schools, they still accumulate just over $20,000 of debt.  And, they must begin making loan payments six months after graduation.  This keeps many would be entrepreneurs on the sideline as they cannot afford to make loan payments and go without a paycheck as they launch their startup. 

One of my goals this year is to address this situation by developing a proposal where a very modest amount of the economic development resources created from the successful sales tax extension vote are made available as incentives for business startups founded in Emporia.  This can be important to new ESU alums with a business startup idea and to Emporia’s economic future.  

And I hope you think that this idea is something to think about!   

January 10, 2018

Last September Forbes contributor, Laura Bloom, - in an article featuring the 7 best places in the U.S. you can afford to be an entrepreneur wrote “Emporia is a charming, walkable and bikeable town with 14 buildings on the National Register of Historic places and the home to Emporia State University. And with a population of only 25,000 people, you won’t feel like a number.  Emporia is a great place to be part of a community that has an active main street, restaurants and a bustling performing arts and entertainment scene. “You will fall in love with the architecture of Emporia – and who knows, you may even be inspired to start up your own downtown business.  The cost of living is very affordable and access to high speed internet is readily available.

Only a matter of months before the Forbes piece - Emporia was chosen by USA Today, readers choice, as the Best Main Street in the USA.  A panel of main street and downtown revitalization experts nominated Emporia citing beautiful architecture, a sense of history, locally owned business and community-centric spaces as elements that make Emporia’s Commercial Street so inviting and so quintessentially American.

More recently Emporia received attention of the wrong kind when, in a snarky satirical article published in December, the Onion named our town as the “best small town in America to escape from?  OUCH The Onion article unfortunately received more attention than it deserved when Michael Smith, in a syndicated opinion piece referring to a “tale of two Emporias” called attention to challenges we face in Emporia, including poverty, health care disparities, poor housing and racism.

I will choose to focus on the positive, Dr. Smith, and point out Emporia is meeting our challenges head on just as we have historically!!  Average wages are on the rise and unemployment is falling.  Housing stock in Emporia is improving, both quantitatively and qualitatively.  Government, non-government and faith-based organizations are combining to provide improving support and services for those in need.  A small sampling of these entities includes – United Way and it’s many agencies, Emporia Community Foundation, Abundant Harvest, Kansas Children’s Service League, Flint Hill’s Community Health Center, Crosswinds, Shiloh House and many, many more.  Emporia is blessed to have literally scores of organizations pursuing various missions to build our economic vitality, to improve our quality of life and create an even more appealing community to live, work and raise a family.  Groups like our Parent Teacher Organizations, various neighborhood associations and Hispanics of Today and Tomorrow have a legacy of leadership in our town that is the envy of other communities.  Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College faculty, staff and students participate in many of these community endeavors and in addition have unique campus activities focused on growing and achieving a greater good.

When we reference “a tale of two Emporia’s”, I observe we have challenges just as all cities and towns do, and we will not ignore those challenges.  As we have historically, we will always recognize opportunities for improvement. Emporia is an extraordinarily generous community. Emporia is doing well and has a bright future.  Each of us has an opportunity to engage in supporting our town and working to make it better.  Let’s focus on the positive and have another super year in 2018.

Did I mention I think we live a great community!

January 3, 2018

Infrastructure is a term we often hear and most of us don’t really know what it means. In the city’s language, infrastructure covers roads, bridges, sewers, and waterlines. These are all things that we would expect to last a long time for the community.  At your home, infrastructure could be your roof, electrical circuits, water heater; all things necessary items in your home, to which you don’t give a lot of day to day thoughts. But, again, items you hope will last a long time.

Just like at your home, the city does regular preventive maintenance of our infrastructure, but sometimes, things age past their useful date. We have seen this a lot in the community. Our award-winning water treatment needed the ozone filter replaced, as the old one was over 20 years old.  Our wastewater plant is requiring the biggest infrastructure investment in the history of Emporia. In 2017, we experienced major water line breaks that showed how old some of the infrastructure is around town.

The bad news about infrastructure is that replacing and repairing it is incredibly expensive. Think about when your home needs new siding or a roof.  Fortunately, the city staff does a great job balancing what needs to be done each year, with what we can afford. The city has software programs that rate our weakest water lines, streets, and similar items, and those are replaced according to need.  The city commission appreciates the amount of work that needs to be done and tries to balance that with keeping taxes stable.

On a positive note, I do want to talk a bit about some infrastructure coming to our community in 2018 that I think will be well received.  The commission has committed to building new playground equipment in Jones Park, Las Casitas Park, Peter Pan Park, and to add a spray park at Peter Pan Park.  We had planned these improvements over a 5 year period, but decided to do all at once to get better pricing and installation. These improvements will be similar to the new playground at Hammond Park.

Infrastructure can be a difficult term to define, but I hope you now understand that the city is working hard to repair, replace and invest in our infrastructure in Emporia. I’m Jon Geitz, and that is something to think about.

December 27, 2017

                “Hustle and Do Your Best” are the 2 rules I used as a coach for kids in baseball and wrestling and any other activity when needed.

          I think those rules say it all!

·       To hustle means to me – to get with it – running, not walking: performing in a determined fashion. It’s a frame of mind.

·       “Do your best” is a test question. We each know the answer immediately without much thought.

          In almost any situation I could ask a youngster – Were you hustling? Or, Was that your best? And amazingly we’d be on the same page.

          Pretty cool how those same rules helped me explain a few things for some parents along the way.

          Two years ago middle son TJ was about to turn 40 and his wife asked if I could produce one of our Valu Line Developmental Baseball team shirts that said “Hustle and Do Your Best” on it. She surprised him with it and I decided I wanted to share those rules with my grandsons at some point.

          Last Saturday in their Christmas stocking at Bobbi and Papa’s house they, in fact everyone, got a “Hustle and Do Your Best” t-shirt.

We took a bunch of pictures, posted on Face Book a few hundred times and hopefully the kids and their dad will have a discussion about those rules.

          What was really fun for me was the reaction from a bunch of former players saying, “I had that shirt; I still use those rules; those were the days” and one even suggesting I made TJ run around Jones Field for missing a grounder!”

          Coaching kids was as much fun as anything I’ve ever done. I learned early from my dad and a rival coach that hard work was the key to success in team sports. If you worked harder at your task than anyone and still got beat you tipped your hat. Losing wasn’t the worst thing, but not doing your best  was!

          I assume there a few folks who remember me as a coach and admittedly I was not a good loser, but I tried my hardest to instill in my teams the importance of always hustling and doing their best. I might have been a jerk towards the other coach or maybe even an umpire, but the kids on my teams knew I had their back if they gave it their best!

          Like everyone else I worry about lots of things in the future, but not about my grand kids because I see them competing in many ways and I see their parents judging them by their effort not always by the results.

          Two rules: Hustle and Do Your Best” you know you could do worse!

          I’m Steve Sauder

 

          “Hustle and Do Your Best” are the 2 rules I used as a coach for kids in baseball and wrestling and any other activity when needed.

          I think those rules say it all!

·       To hustle means to me – to get with it – running, not walking: performing in a determined fashion. It’s a frame of mind.

·       “Do your best” is a test question. We each know the answer immediately without much thought.

          In almost any situation I could ask a youngster – Were you hustling? Or, Was that your best? And amazingly we’d be on the same page.

          Pretty cool how those same rules helped me explain a few things for some parents along the way.

          Two years ago middle son TJ was about to turn 40 and his wife asked if I could produce one of our Valu Line Developmental Baseball team shirts that said “Hustle and Do Your Best” on it. She surprised him with it and I decided I wanted to share those rules with my grandsons at some point.

          Last Saturday in their Christmas stocking at Bobbi and Papa’s house they, in fact everyone, got a “Hustle and Do Your Best” t-shirt.

We took a bunch of pictures, posted on Face Book a few hundred times and hopefully the kids and their dad will have a discussion about those rules.

          What was really fun for me was the reaction from a bunch of former players saying, “I had that shirt; I still use those rules; those were the days” and one even suggesting I made TJ run around Jones Field for missing a grounder!”

          Coaching kids was as much fun as anything I’ve ever done. I learned early from my dad and a rival coach that hard work was the key to success in team sports. If you worked harder at your task than anyone and still got beat you tipped your hat. Losing wasn’t the worst thing, but not doing your best  was!

          I assume there a few folks who remember me as a coach and admittedly I was not a good loser, but I tried my hardest to instill in my teams the importance of always hustling and doing their best. I might have been a jerk towards the other coach or maybe even an umpire, but the kids on my teams knew I had their back if they gave it their best!

          Like everyone else I worry about lots of things in the future, but not about my grand kids because I see them competing in many ways and I see their parents judging them by their effort not always by the results.

          Two rules: Hustle and Do Your Best” you know you could do worse!

          I’m Steve Sauder

 

December 20, 2017

          Sometimes an opportunity just lands in your lap!

          Case in point was a lunch with retired banker Ken Buchele and Becky Jeppesen the new CEO at the Emporia Community Foundation. It was planned as a get-acquainted lunch, but we found a neat opportunity.

          Seems my parents left an undesignated fund at the Community Foundation. The new CEO was curious if we had a plan. In the 11 years since my dad passed the fund had made a couple of gifts, but nothing else.

          Bob Agler, the Execrator of dad's estate said, "Earl didn't want this fund to be permanent  - he wanted activity!"

          Lord knows dad would not have approved just letting the money sit!

          So, we have decided to put these funds to use.

          We have created the Stelouise and Earl Sauder Youth Assistance Fund to benefit youth organizations in Lyon, Coffee, Greenwood and Chase Counties with the stipulation that the recipient groups need to be predominately made up of kids 18 and under.

          We have no preconceived notions as to what will qualify except for being located in the four counties where my folks lived and or worked and the age qualification. We hope youth leaders will use their imagination in making requests.

          We aren’t interested in replacing fundraising for these groups, but will be willing to help if the group has some skin in the game.

          Our numbers aren't huge, but big enough to offer assistance.

          We are going to administer the fund through KVOE with assistance from the Emporia Community Foundation.

          The Application form is on the KVOE website and also available on the Emporia Community Foundation website.

          There are no deadlines. A committee of me, Jamie Sauder, Erren Harter and someone from the Community Foundation will make all decisions. There will be an allocation each year that when spent will shut the fund down until the following year.

          Like I said we have no preconceived rules, so we encourage any and all to check this fund out. We have some money and a desire to help.

          It's the Stelouise and Earl Sauder Youth Assistance Fund with applications at kvoe.com.

          Merry Christmas, I'm Steve Sauder.