K-96 cities court wind projects

MOUNT HOPE — A group of Sedgwick and Reno County cities along K-96 want a piece of the region's growing wind energy business.

The arrival of Siemens in Hutchinson was just one of the issues before the K-96 Corridor Development Association's 2010 annual meeting held Friday in Mount Hope.

The idea, said executive director Harland Priddle, is to make sure Siemens and its subcontractors know about the commercial development opportunities along the corridor from South Hutchinson to Maize.

"This corridor has had wind energy development on its mind for some time," Priddle said. "We want to make sure we're there with them."

The hope is to land some subcontracting business as Siemens develops its supply chain for the manufacture of nacelles, which house the mechanics of a wind turbine engine.

Talks already have begun with Siemens, said corridor board member Gabe Schlickau, to see if product can be developed here at a price acceptable to the company.

The corridor group also launched its marketing video, touting advancements in member cities South Hutchinson, Yoder, Haven, Mount Hope and Maize.

Marketing will be one of the group's major efforts, Priddle said, as the cities try to position themselves for commercial and residential development.

"We want to get things for the cities and the corridor that fit in them," Priddle said. "I doubt any of us want a hog production facility in or near our cities."

Several corridor cities are in the midst of those kinds of projects, Priddle said, from new housing in South Hutchinson to infrastructure in Haven and continued work on an industrial park in Maize.

Richard LaMunyon, the Maize city administrator, said his city continues to perfect its economic development plan in the wake of coming up short this year on a bid to land Tindall Corp. Tindall chose a site in Newton to build bases for wind turbines.

The deal turned on free land in Newton, corridor officials said, instead of an attempt to buy land in the northwest corner of Maize near K-96.

"I'd prefer to focus on the positives," LaMunyon said. "What have we learned? What can we do better?"