Allison Moeding loves the fact that you can now eat Thai in Derby.
Moeding has been economic development director in Sedgwick County’s second-largest city since 2002.
Derby has always had a lot of houses, but for years lacked enough business, forcing people to drive elsewhere — usually Wichita — for services. She persuaded her perspective employers that what they needed was better marketing to bring those businesses to town.
Apparently it’s succeeding because the city has exploded with retail, restaurants and other businesses in the past five years.
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She acknowledged that Derby is usually the third place that national chains look after building in east and west Wichita, but that “we think we’re the number one location.”
Moeding, 38, is married to Michael, and they have three children.
Q. Has the recession slowed growth in Derby?
A. “Maybe. I think we continue to see interest and projects. I don’t know if that would have happened more quickly if the recession hadn’t happened, but we’ve had a really steady rate of growth.”
Q. What more could Derby possibly want?
A. “When we asked what people wanted about five years ago, it was a lot of different retail and restaurants. Everybody had their favorite. They said if we could just get a Olive Garden or whatever, we would never have to leave Derby again.
“We’ve already got good basics, a good hotel, health care is on the rise. What people are looking for is a community with a lot of options.”
Q. What’s your pitch to encourage Wichitans to visit Derby?
A. “I tell people if you have not been to Derby in the last five years, you have not been to Derby.”
Q. Who do you think will win the tournament?
A. “I’ve got Kentucky and KU in the final, and Kentucky will be hard to beat. I’m a KU grad, so that pains me.”
Q. What is something that nobody knows about you?
A. “I was a toll collector in college … in Emporia and Lawrence, and I did a couple of stints in Admire and in Cassoday, out on the lone prairie by myself.”