Matt Sabala, senior project director for Ignite Emporia, speaks to the Emporia City Commission Wednesday morning.

Local Realtor Jeff Williams asked the Emporia City Commission to consider investing $150,000 over five years to the Ignite Emporia initiative Wednesday morning.

Ignite Emporia is a five-year strategic plan that is being designed to grow and retain jobs, expand businesses and industries and bring in more affordable housing. The initiative is a project of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce, working in partnership with local schools, businesses, manufacturers and more.

Williams said one purpose of the initiative is to open lines of communication between educators and employers, making sure the upcoming generations are aware of the job opportunities available to them locally while also training them to do those jobs.

“I’m a parent, and every parent wants their kid to have a good, safe job that pays a good wage,” he said. “Their dreams aren’t to have them put some product into a package for $8 an hour. Their dream is that they’ll make more money and have a more responsible job. ... But, it takes skills to do that and it takes skilled labor to work at most of our corporations and our medium and small businesses right now.”

Williams said the opportunities for the upcoming workforce would include internships and job shadowing programs, working directly with local districts and post-secondary institutions. He said this will help address changes in the job market, with industries like Simmons and Tyson filling positions for chemists and engineers locally.

“Partnering with the schools at all levels has been phenomenal,” he said.

Commissioner Becky Smith asked how the Ignite Emporia initiative differed from organizations like the Regional Development Association or Emporia Enterprises — both of which are already receiving city funds to operate.

“If we commit $30,000 every year, what exactly is that money going to?” she said.

Matt Sabala, senior project manager with Ignite Emporia, said $50,000 - $60,000 would go toward administrative costs, with the rest of the funds being funneled into the overall missions. The goal would be a self-sustaining program by the end of five years.

He said Ignite Emporia’s mission pairs well with the state’s Kansans Can initiative, which puts an emphasis on project-based learning and individualized programs.

“There is a lot that is going into that that needs to start younger,” Sabala said.

Williams said any overlap between Ignite Emporia and other organizations would only help bolster its overall mission.

“I honestly believe that you can’t over-communicate,” he said. “Communication is what this is all about. Letting people know how wonderful Emporia is in so many different ways, and the people that we have here, what their skills are to match people with what we have. So, we’re promoting Emporia, we’re promoting the quality of life, we’re promoting our industry, we’re promoting our students who are born and raised here. It’s literally everybody who makes this community what it is.”

Mayor Jon Geitz said he believed it was a promising idea that could have a big impact on Emporia, and a project that aligns itself nicely with the commission’s goals of maximizing the local “educational triad” of local districts, Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College, workforce development and housing developments.

“I’ve been part of some of the preliminary meetings of Ignite Emporia and I think it’s a good idea and I think it’s something that will be beneficial to the community,” he said. “Some of the tenets of their plan dovetail very well with the goals that the five commissioners have set for ourselves. ... I think we, in my opinion, should be part of that program.”

Geitz said he liked that the majority of the program’s funding would be coming from private entities.

Commissioners said they would be more likely to support a one-time $30,000 payment, rather than committing to five years right off the bat.

“My reluctance on doing ongoing pledges has nothing to do with Ignite Emporia; it has more to do with ongoing pledges,” Geitz said. “The city is contacted every year by organizations that want us to help fund their initiatives and projects, and we really haven’t had a good way of making decisions other than first-come, first-served. To me, when you make a five-year commitment to any program, if a better opportunity comes up in year four, how do you go back and re-neg on the commitment you’ve made? It has nothing to do with Ignite Emporia, to me, it’s just a philosophical thing.”

Geitz said the commission will revisit the issue at a later date.

(13) comments


We have morphed into what we are,a low wage gov teat sucking town,,,,ask yourself why we cant recruit prof jobs to emporia,,,,,,,,,,,,,,there is NO MONEY,,,BAD SCHOOLS,,,,NO SHOPPING ,,,thats just a start why,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,we have the means to turn this wreck around,but is there a vision to see our way out of poverty..........our best way is to look at 12th and commercial for a guide to success as a community,,,,,,,,,,,,,its a pump that would flood emporia with money if only our stroke and pat societies could pull there heads out of each others rear ends and realize the gift ESU IS FOR emporia.


Could you be more clear as far as what needs to be done to utilize the gift that ESU, and I am sincerely asking this as I totally agree with your post. We lived near both Pittsburg State and Kansas State which were both front and center. My older son attended ESU in the mid-90s and it was a nicer town at that time. No Money? Plenty of money being paid to taxes here and not much to show for it. Constance stream of people in front of the council with their hands out. People who have money don't seem to choose to live inside the city limits. Bad Schools? I was surprised the schools rated so poorly considering the state's teaching college is located here, although I understand that many of the students enter school not speaking English which slows progress in the classroom for all the students. No Shopping? Well, with lower wages, most shopping venues look for disposable income to guarantee them a decent return on their investment, and many go outside the community to shop and a fair share of the wages earned leave the city by Western Union. An issue with the poverty has to do with the number of agencies extending handouts as they will come from adjoining states to get the handouts. Offer freebies, and they will come. We all know what is depressing wages here too!

KB Thomas

Rockefellers and Rothschilds Unite and then go to The Rockefeller Charter Membership and you will be surprised who is on membership list.

KB Thomas

Wilder your well informed and you probably heard the video by G Edward Griffin The Creature from Jeckyll Island and The Money Masters.


It seems like we have a new wacko group wanting "free" tax money almost every day. The large percentage that it for their own self invented jobs shown how ineffective this "ignite" scheme will be. The city & county should draw the line and not allow anymore of these off the cuff groups, as usually the Main Street folks sop up enough money. I'm sure that if we knew what the staff of RDA, Chamber, & Main Street are paid, we all would be in the heart attack area at Newman's.


"Ignite Emporia"? What are they, a bunch of arsonists? Yes, they will "burn" through your property tax money!


We throwing too much money at pipe dreams. 1/3 to almost a 1/2 is going wages and office space. I better idea just 1/3 to me.


Looks like it will create a couple of good jobs at Ignite Emporia. If this is needed, and I am not sure it is, why not just increase the taxpayer donation to one of the others already doing something similar thus eliminating a new set of administrative costs? That makes the most sense to me. One of the reasons that wages are lower here has to do with illegal labor. Businesses in town that hire a legal labor force do so by paying a better wage with benefits, and following our laws. Doesn't the vo-tech and the high school already work together toward employment in needed vocations for the area? Seriously, how many chemists and engineers will find employment locally? Not that many. I think most of the tasks they describe are already being done in the community thus the funding would be denied if I, as taxpayer, had the power to do that. I would rather see the $150,000 going toward recruiting an actual business that would hire people.

KB Thomas

Will Rogers once said, "Thank goodness were not getting all the government we are paying for. I think that John Geitz and Jeff Williams have their heart in the right place but, I do not think that government is the answer as government has done a poor job and they have the loser's limp. The loser's limp is when a baseball team is 8 runs behind and start limping off the field. Lyon County is as most people know one of the poorest counties in the state of Kansas. My solution is some fresh blood, as some of these people have become fixtures and believe they have lifetime jobs. I believe if they were good, they would have better job in other cities. What I would like to see is the taxpayers to ignite against excessive spending. The taxpayers of Emporia need to know from the Lyon County Treasure how many properties in Emporia are receiving tax incentives. The average tax payer does not know that they are subsidizing these stack and pack apartment projects down town where developers pay only the tax on the land for ten years. Other area's have a neighborhood revitalization program on new projects where the property tax is only 5% of the real tax for 5 years and then just 50% for the next 5 years---sweet deal at the expense of property owners especially folks on fixed income. This is part of UN Agenda 2030 and the end game is to tax people out of their properties and force people in downtown apartment projects--source Rosa Koire UN Agenda 2030 exposed video and Rosa Koire Behind the Green Mask UN Agenda 21, 6 23 12 Part 1 of 4. Another excellent video Democrats against UN Agenda 21.Another good one is Inside Agenda 21: The International Tyranny of Bike Lanes. The City and County paid 200 thousand for hiring a group from the west coast with their liberal ideas for our town. One idea was to promote apartments over garages in the downtown core area near the college. Most of these garages were built years ago on utility easements and try to get a permit to build on a easement. They even wanted a lane down the middle of Commercial for bikes and to widen all sidewalks so people could eat outside like Lawrence Kansas but, were not Lawrence Kansas. This facilitator from the west coast said, he never heard of UN Agenda 21 and he claims to be a planner, this is hard for me to believe. I went to many of the meetings and they were not well attended and they had a plan conceived to make people in Emporia think it was our plan but, it was their plan. Most of these remarks were made at the meeting but, the press and radio station censored me. I think they think that this is a conspiracy theory but, it is a conspiracy fact and even one commissioner is getting in on the action on a site at 6th ave and prairie with tax abatement in place as he competes against other car washes that he does not already own. Also, on that property their is i believe a storm or sewer running diagonally across the property. I wonder if City is going to stand the cost or project will be built in such away that it will not be problem. Much, much, more but I say get involved with your government as it won't be long that if we the people don't get a handle on this property owners will be taxed out of their homes. And as Paul Harvey said, now you know the rest of the story. Also, review Tom D'Ambra YouTube Eps39 Who's Media.


When I bought a house in Fairfax County, Virginia, my property taxes were $900 a year. When I left, 12 years later, they were $3800. The county budget had ballooned from $800 million to over $3 billion, including $500 million for mandatory interest payments on bonds (borrowed money). Granted, Lyon County is not yet planning a $300,000,000 high school (Fairfax was spending $200,000/student for their 1500-student high school) but the glittering chrome and glass palaces the government provides for itself - public education, ESU and County government facilities - are ostentatious evidence of the arrogant and condescending attitude of the intelligentsia towards the taxpayers Their insistence on surrounding themselves and their buildings with a protective moat manned by armed police also displays a contempt forthe people who pay their salaries - "Don't even think about talking to us, or giving us your opinion or even asking what we are teaching the next generation." If the county has money to spend, spend it on incarcerating violent criminals, such as the youthful (MISEDUCATED) scum who recently broke several car windows - the police know who did it, but do nothing - I guess they have a superior "social engineering" process in place.


Our monetary system is completely broken. We have to dismantle the Federal Reserve and return to constitutional money in this generation. All fiat currencies lead to hyperinflation. It is just a matter of time before our currency collapses. The displays of government excess are merely symptoms of the problem.


I am glad I live in this area. It is not too big that ther is runaway government ending - yet. But the little things - spending $150k for nothing, and not prosecuting petty criminals, lead to a more general breakdown of government financing and spending and law and order. NYC cracked down on the little stuff - littering,larceny, etc. and today it is safer than a much smaller city, like Topeka.


I should have written "government spending" not "government ending." Can't edit your comment...

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