Greater Topeka Partnership aims to accelerate momentum

Published: Jan. 16, 2020 at 3:22 PM CST
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Local leaders want to accelerate efforts to build business in the Topeka area.

The Greater Topeka Partnership held its annual meeting Thursday with the theme "accelerate."

"(It means) go harder," said GTP CEO Matt Pivarnik. "Accomplish more than we think is possible."

GTP's outgoing board chairman Cody Foster touted success over the past two years in attracting new businesses, like Plug and Play and a Walmart Distribution Center. He also noted expansions at existing companies like Hills, Mars, and his own company, Advisors Excel. Plus he noted quality of life improvements with downtown renovations, Topeka Zoo improvements and Stormont Vail Events Center projects.

But he says the work is just starting.

"We're making progress, so how do we pile on top of that?" Foster said.

Pivarnik said this year marks the halfway point of Momentum 2022, GTP's strategic plan for the community. He said the community already has achieved 77 percent of the goals set forth in the plan. Rather than be satisfied with getting to 100 percent, Pivarnik said the community must reach beyond.

"I believe that's going to cause us to have to be more strategic, to work harder, to work smarter, continue to be innovative, accelerate the momentum we already have," he said.

To that end, new GTP board chairman Keith Warta of Bartlett and West said they will re-evaluate Momentum 2022, with the goal of revealing an updated strategy by the middle of the year. He said it would reflect what remaining goals are still needed, and what they might add.

Warta said GTP also is looking to move beyond the land-acquisition efforts on which it's focused, and shift to incentivizing innovation. He said while acquiring land has brought more than $1 billion in investments by attracting companies like Mars, Target, and Walmart, creating an innovation center will attract jobs of the future.

"Plug and Play is bringing big startups here," he said. "We need to get them to stay."

Another component of the approach, Warta said, is the new Choose Topeka program. GO Topeka is offering to match companies' incentives, up to a certain amount, for new employees to buy a home or rent a residents in Topeka. He said the program already has 2800 applicants, and media coverage of the program has attracted attention from two companies that could bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area.

The partnership also honored Capitol Federal CEO John Dicus with its Wolgast Award for outstanding contributions to the community.

Others recognized by GTP included:

-SJ Hazim and Taylor Buckley for their work using social media to promote a positive Topeka image

-Bryce Liedtke and Makenna Orton for their leadership with the Topeka Youth Commission

-Brittany Crabtree and Michaela Saunders for their efforts in the Topeka flag redesign

-Duane Cantrell and John Keddy for efforts to bring Plug and Play to Topeka

-Marty Patterson and Councilwoman Karen Hiller for efforts with the Brown vs. Board 65th anniversary celebrations

-Pat Michaelis and Kurt Young for making Evergy Plaza a reality

-Mike Braum: Ambassador of the Year

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