Olathe, Kansas | Resonance
Olathe, Kansas

A 10-year Economic Development Strategic Plan Clarifies the Competitive Advantages and Investment Priorities for One of the Midwest’s Oldest Cities

Olathe is a fast-growing community offering residents a safe and family-friendly environment and is home to a highly skilled workforce in a variety of industries. Its healthy economy and competitive export clusters, combined with close proximity to Kansas City—which provides big-city amenities while maintaining the culture and natural features of a small town—give the city a distinct positioning among the cities in the metropolitan area.

The city, therefore, is primed to continue attracting a healthy talent pipeline vital to supporting Olathe’s industries but needed to rethink its approach to both talent attraction and retention, with investment decisions on everything from office space allocation to strategies that support the small-business ecosystem.

To support the creation of Olathe’s Economic Development Strategic Plan, Resonance performed a comprehensive demographic and economic assessment that evaluated the city’s performance across a variety of metrics compared to a set of benchmark communities, and evaluated Olathe’s industry clusters to guide future business attraction and expansion efforts. Our team also performed a review of the real estate market in the city across all commercial property types—office, industrial, and retail—to ensure that demographic trends and projections are balanced with real estate market performance and inventory. We complemented this research with stakeholder engagement to address Olathe’s assets and opportunities for the future.

The 10-year economic development plan uncovered six key priorities: 

  • attraction of new investment to bolster existing businesses 
  • building and projecting Olathe as the state’s premier entrepreneurial community
  • rigorous pursuit of new talent for economic resilience
  • filling workforce pipelines
  • investment in, and reimagining of, a downtown that is a destination for residents and businesses   
  • marketing and promotion of Olathe as a home for families and professionals, and a destination for visitors to the Kansas City metro

Our thorough 10-year blueprint combined community engagement and data collection from a diverse sample of citizens and business leaders as well as perception analysis of target investors and talent. While the project was only recently presented to city leaders, its vital insights into the city’s population growth and optimized allocation of that talent—combined with the gaps in existing branding as a place to move to or visit—have provided local leadership with clear next steps. Resonance continues to work with our client to help tell Olathe’s new story externally, while advising on internal investment and placemaking initiatives that will make Olathe more than just a place to live and work, but one to proudly call home.

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