Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
It’s HOT…get used to it! If you haven’t seen the forecast…for the next 14-days temps are predicted above 96 degrees with 11 straight days higher than 100 degrees…with only a slight chance of rain on Sunday this weekend. Ugh! get prepared for high electric costs. This is fair week for Franklin County…it seems the hottest weather always comes during fair week. Cherry and I were at the fair last night watching Evie show her hogs…we’ll be attending the Franklin County Kansas Livestock barbeque this evening. Many times, I see some local people only once a year…at the fair. It is always a great place to reconnect and catch up with friends and neighbors. I hope I see you there too…be prepared for the heat!
 
Commercial Construction in Ottawa:
 
The temps are hot and so are the construction projects around town…there are 3 active commercial builds going on right now (pictures here). The new projects are the Starbucks in south Ottawa between the Nagoya and Mcdonalds restaurants. AdventHealth has begun a major facility multiphase upgrade. This project is beginning with half of the Gollier Center, moving next to the specialty doctor’s offices in the Franklin County Annex and changing the space completely. Lastly it moves back to the Gollier Center to finish the second half of this location. When the entire phased project is complete, the Gollier Center will be the new doctor’s office building and the annex will be transformed into a new physical and occupational services location. There will be many disruptions for staff and a few too for patients…but a plan is in place to minimize the inconveniences for everyone. Be sure you check with the hospital if you have appointments to learn where your procedure or care is to happen…there will be some moving around during the construction. The final construction project currently taking place is the new coffee shop at the NE corner of the intersection at Keokuk and Main Streets. The building has been basically gutted on the inside and also a drive-up window has been added. They are moving to Ottawa from Lawrence…in Lawrence the shop is called Sid & Nancy’s and offers coffee and custard. I’m not sure if the name and menu are remaining the same or changing…but I will keep you posted.  Other projects still coming but not yet started are the new OakStar Bank, Domino’s Pizza and a new car plaza on East 23rd Street. 
 
Kansas Mega Economic Development Announcement:
 
On Wednesday this week, Governor Laura Kelly announced a new multi-billion-dollar project coming to Kansas…the company is Panasonic Energy Company and will produce electronic vehicle (EV) batteries…primarily for Tesla. Here is the full press release. The planned project is expected to create up to 4,000 new jobs and result in an investment of up to $4 billion, which represents the largest economic development project in Kansas history. The build will take place in De Soto, Kansas at the former location of the Sunflower Munitions Plant. This is a crazy huge announcement for Kansas…it is the largest private investment in Kansas history and will be the largest manufacturing plant of its kind in the country. The project is also predicted to be transformative for the Kansas economy…expected to provide in addition to the 4,000 high-quality jobs, an additional 4,000 jobs of support services and ancillary companies to support the main company. This was made possible by the “Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion” (APEX) Act which was introduced in January, passed by the Kansas Legislature and signed by the Governor. The advantages for Franklin County are boundless…there will be many supplementary supplier spinoffs as a result of this announcement. With Proximity Park ready to go, we are in a prime location to land a potential supply company for the new EV manufacturer. In addition to this, many of our friends and neighbors will be employed at the new plant…this will translate into additional new housing for Ottawa. It will be interesting to watch this play out…this is absolutely fortuitous for our community!!
 
Chamber Blue:
 
I’ve been talking about this for a while…the Chamber is now able to offer to all members, a large group health insurance plan…the rollout is beginning now.  The program will be called Chamber Blue of Kansas and is a partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS). Yesterday BCBSKS had a webinar available to all Chamber in Kansas…it was recorded, so you will be able to watch this one-hour informational tutorial soon on our website and Facebook page. This morning, we hosted a Chamber Coffee for our members (pictures here) to hear firsthand the advantages of an Associated Health Plan (AHV). The potential benefits of this plan are the sheer numbers…it is available to every Chamber member in Kansas. It allows BCBS to spread the risk which in turn provides steady rates. It’s not just Ottawa Chamber members, but members of Wichita, Topeka, and Hutchinson Chambers (40 Chambers in all) will be included too. I only mention these 3 large chambers, because they have memberships of over 1,000. The potential for this is its size…the more people in a group health plan, the lower the cost of health insurance for everyone. This new plan will offer 8 new health plan offerings…click here to see the options.  Prices will be determined by the results of the statewide survey which will be sent to all members in the last week of July. If you are at all interested in offering this to your employees, you must have them fill out the survey…completing the survey does not obligate you – but if you don’t participate in the original survey, you will not be guaranteed the original prices to be offered once survey results are tabulated. The 8 options will be priced in September based on the results of the survey and the opportunity to join the group will be in October and November…this will be the time you need to make a decision to join or pass. Member cards and plans will be disseminated in December and the plan will begin on January 1, 2023. Granted, this will not be a be-all-to-save-all for everyone…but for many, this opportunity will have advantages. Take a little time to learn about this…if you want to speak directly to a BCBS rep, we can help make those arrangements. 
 
Harbor Hospice:
 
A couple of weeks ago, Harbor Hospice became a new member of the Ottawa Chamber…this week, Rachael Winter, their Volunteer Coordinator, was our Rotary speaker (pictures here). The hospice’s local headquarters is in Olathe…the parent company is headquartered in Texas. We were happy to welcome them to Ottawa and as Chamber members. Rachael speaking at Rotary gave me a better opportunity to learn about their company and philosophies. Not so different than most hospice organizations, they are about helping families treat end-of-life with dignity and respect. I thought Rachael made some excellent points…we spend so much at birth and the beginning of life – the end of life deserves just as much attention for a life completed. Harbor offers support to families and the person passing from life…they have volunteers who do massage, music therapy, read poetry and stories, play the piano or sing, just to name some of the services provided. Racheal said the goal of Harbor is to provide the care and support which both the patient and the family wants and requires…it is extremely noble work. Not everyone can do it, but those who can are needed. If you need the services of Harbor Hospice…or you would like to learn about volunteering, you can find contact information and can learn more here. Thanks to them for the work they do and for being a part of our Ottawa community!
 
Family News:
 
Most of our own kids and family are home this week…it’s Evie’s first time to show at the fair and she had great success showing her pigs. She has 4 displayed currently…last night she won a grand champion in showmanship for her age group and reserve champion market hog (pictures here). Not bad for the first year of 4-H!!
 
The fair always makes for great experiences and fun…here are pictures of a couple of cousins getting dirty. Also, Johnnie came from Cedar Vale this week with her mom…she decided to stand up for the first time at grandpa and grandma’s house (picture here). No matter how many times you experience it, watching a baby grow, mature and learn new things is always amazing!!
 
Most know Cherry and I enjoy going to Royals’ games…last weekend we had tickets behind home plate which fell our way (pictures here). It is a fun perspective…not something we can really afford, but when given the opportunity, we enjoy being right in the game!!
 
Hope to see you at the fair tonight. This evening is the annual barbeque…always great food and conversation. Come on out and enjoy the atmosphere, watch all the kids show their animals, display their projects…or just take in all the activities. It is always a fun time!
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John
 
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000