Wellington leaders encouraged by developers' interest

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WELLINGTON, Kan. -- City and economic development leaders in Wellington say it can be tough to attract new businesses and industry without an adequate supply of housing.

That's a picture they hope will soon change.

"It's kind of that chicken and egg thing," Sumner County Economic Development Director Janis Hellard said. "You don't build one until somebody comes, but when somebody comes, they want a place already ready."

Hellard said every town in the county has a shortage of avialable housing, so she's encouraged three different developers have set their sights on Wellington.

"That is one of the issues that all of the rural counties have been struggling with is that you can't necessarily bring in a business if you haven't got a place for their workers," she said.

Two of the developers will apply for funding from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation. One proposes converting the building that once served as a high school and a junior high into a 42-unit apartment building. The other wants to build a complex near a sub-division.

Despite objections of the people who live in that development, the city council voted to voice its support of both projects as part of the developers' application for the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation funding.

"This will be a statewide, very competitive process, but it's interesting that we have not only one, but two," Wellington City Manager Gus Collins said.

Those two proposals are in addition to an apartment complex with 192 units already proposed by another developer for property along the city's east edge. That has some excited for the potential of further growth along the corridor the city most wants to see developed.

"We're very excited of that potential; what that may lead to," Collins said.

Wellington's proximity to Wichita and a better outlook in the aviation industry have likely helped to catch the the developers' attention, Collins said.

"Our largest employers are aviation-related. They're seeing an influx in need for additional work force."

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