panasonic update – jan 25, 2023
Panasonic Opportunities Manager Update #5
I am sure you all have experienced the post-holiday increase in things going on as well. There
has been some good Panasonic movement since the holiday break to tell you about.
I continue to say, “Panasonic is happening! We can respond proactively to assure we make the
most of the opportunities presented or we can sit back and get thumped by the long reaching
impacts of the States largest economic development project ever. We need to be proactive to
take advantage of all the positive impacts and mitigate any negative impacts.”
The following is a summary of activities beyond many in-person meetings as we continue to
push for more information on suppliers and employee hiring:
1. KDOT and KCATA and others held a Panasonic related transit meeting at KU Innovation
a. Panasonic Construction partners: Sain Associates, SSOE, IPI, Makenzie.
b. Presentation by Desoto.
i. Old plant has 5800 private developable acres 1350 zoned industrial flint is 370
acres zoned M-1.
ii. Flint will be ready with infra in 12 months 6-8 pad sites 4-6 million square feet of
buildings with 500-2,000 jobs.
iii. Panasonic is 5 million square feet 2.5 billion in annual benefit.
iv. Plus another 1,000 acres of other opportunities basically everything between
Panasonic and K-10.
v. Desoto could generate 15-20k new jobs over 15-20 years (1,000 per year).
c. Presentation by KDOT on local infrastructure project.
i. KDOT improving 4.5 miles from evening star to 95th along Lexington and 103rd
and Main Avenue south of 103rd
ii. That local road improvement will be a divided 4 lane with bike ped facilities and
turn lanes plus utility corridor.
iii. Flint Development currently rebuilding Edgerton Road along its East boundary.
iv. KDOT Showed phased traffic routing during local road construction.
d. Panasonic site work team on board – Clarkson HDR Braun and BHC.
e. KDOT hiring independent cost estimator.
f. Panasonic assuming some will be looking at a 50-mile commute.
g. KDOT reviewed other projects near by and incl SLT.
h. KDOT looking at future projects incl K-10 to 435- Douglas County Line
i. The next items are from a side discussion I had with Mike Moriarty of KDOT.
1. All SLT improvements are still moving forward.
2. This gets KDOT to Edgerton road where traffic drops off.
3. Will continue to monitor traffic – especially truck traffic for future
j. Panasonic Energy Presentation
i. Construction General manager TBA soon.
ii. First foundations in Feb First Steel in March.
iii. MEP summer 2023.
iv. Hiring by Ana Bartolucci (Panasonic HR).
1. Build infra partnerships and pipelines in 2023 and into 2024.
2. 200 hire per month in production starting 10/2024 transit target date.
3. Working with KU.
4. University Summit Road show to develop skills matrix.
5. Also partnering with high Schools and Junior colleges.
6. 12 hour shifts 3 on 4 off 4 on 3 off.
7. 1,100 use shuttles everyday p 1/3 of production employees paid by
8. Travel up to 1.5 hours One route comes from Carson City in Douglas County
9. Shuttle busses have wifi and have been made attractive drop off is at the
10. No childcare coordination with transit yet.
i. ATA re lessons learned
1. Amazon lessons learned tied to Juco and childcare.
2. Urban Outfitters early work with ATA made it very successful used a CID to
pay for transit route 4 shifts 7 days a week.
3. Edgerton busses did not work 90 minutes from downtown.
4. Josh from KCATA said K-10 connector will never serve Desoto due to time
ii. Should wrap (logo) busses.
iii. NV plant uses full size busses.
iv. Tesla has bus system of their own.
v. KC metro area needs to develop a working team to come back and present to big
vi. Panasonic primary mission is batteries but need the people.
2. Panasonic and the Kansas Department of Commerce held an information meeting for
communities and Labor.
a. Much of the general information was the same as the transit meeting. New
information is include here:
i. Supplier information – nothing disclosed.
ii. Craig VanWey – Kansas Certified Sites list.
1. Explained the Certified sites program.
2. Only 8 sites statewide 9th coming moving soon to 13.
3. Consistent with programs around the country.
4. Takes 9-12 months to get approved. Could be 6 months if local entity is on
5. My takeaway is that Douglas County needs sites on this list.
iii. KU presentation on collab effort of communities.
1. Work on a 15-mile radius collab group effort (25 min drive time).
2. Look at housing, infra, workforce, community support, business
3. Econ prosperity, collaboration, engage communities, protect natural
4. Many planning partners.
5. Grow create pursue compete (globally).
3. EDC, City of Lawrence and KDOT met this week.
a. KDOT had the District engineer, KDOT Planning and KDOT partnerships team
members in attendance.
b. We discussed the pros and cons of various sites that would need KDOT participation
to bring on-line.
c. KDOT was very receptive and gave us some items to think about and continue
d. The meeting went very well and the sharing of Ideas.
4. EDC and Lawrence continue to meet regularly to work on new industrial site
5. EDC is working on a proposal to amend the CIP to help foster new residential
6. There have been good discussions around the new zoning code.
a. There is a group discussion neighborhood meetings and general impediments to the
b. There is also a group meeting to discuss the zoning code analysis done by the
consultant and how to respond to the new code sections as they are released.
7. The EDC will sign a contract to prepare a marketing plan soon. The plan will be
completed by the beginning of March.
8. I am planning an early February site visit to reno for some on the ground reconnaissance
related to Panasonic suppliers. We have learned the new plant will only be producing
the batteries and not the complete battery packs for various cars.
9. Finally, I attended a dinner hosted by Panasonic to thank local partners. I had the
pleasure of meeting Koya Takahashi, Senior Vice President, Panasonic Energy North
America and other Panasonic folks in marketing and HR. Koya will be moving to the
area soon. The EDC and I will be hosting him for dinner in Lawrence and a KU basketball
game. He is a big basketball fan!
Robin H. Richardson, AICP |
Douglas County Panasonic Opportunities Manager
Lawrence and Douglas County Ecconomic Development Council
o: 785.865.4411 | c:913.909.9042
We are excited to share the new video the EDC produced to help recruit new businesses. Just click the link below to download the video:
Please Share the video far and wide!
Finally, once again I will share the web-links links we have related to contacting Panasonic. Some may be repetitive, but I would use all of them if you would like to be in the mix to garner their business. Feel free to share them!
Register with Connex (Kansas Manufacturing Solutions) as a manufacturer at https://www.connexks.com/, or
Complete the Panasonic Supplier Interest form at https://www.kansascommerce.gov/panasonic-project-announcement/panasonic-supplier-interest-form/, or
Register with Panasonic directly at http://us.panasonic.com/supplier_diversity/qualifications.asp
For this link, provided at the KCADC meeting, please scroll to the bottom, and complete the “Contact Us” section.
Lawrence’s employment continued to show modest growth for the month of November. Seasonally adjusted employment increased 100 jobs to 50,900, a continuation of the growth Lawrence has seen since July. The unemployment rate increased 0.1% to 2.7%, which is relatively low to historical rate averages. Overall, this suggests that the labor market remains tight.
Lawrence ranks fourth among nearby metros in 12-month employment growth. This month, the metro’s 12-month employment declined 0.2% compared to November 2021. Overall, employment essentially has been flat over the 12-month period, showing some growth early but much of that growth was offset by the large decline in jobs during the May to July period. The larger metros in the region continue to grow with Topeka and Kansas City growing by 2.5% and Wichita by 2.2%. Manhattan, the metro most like Lawrence in size, declined 0.5% over the 12-month period.
Total private hourly earnings declined considerably this month from $28.15 to $27.01, a drop of $1.14. Similar declines occurred during the same monthly periods in past years suggesting that at least some of the decline in hourly earnings is driven by seasonal changes. This may also be a sign that the Federal’s Reserve’s move to increase interest rates may finally be influencing wage increases.
Labor shortages can be a driver of inflation. Employers raise wages to attract workers, but the costs associated with higher wages are passed on to customers in the prices of goods. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates in the hopes that it will ultimately reduce the demand for labor. The FOMC is aiming for rates that would induce employers to slow hiring but not stop it, or worse, begin laying off workers and cause a recession. This is a very narrow window and increases in interest rates act on the economy with a long lag, making it easy to overshoot the ideal interest rate target.
It is still not clear if the Federal Reserve can engineer a soft landing, although many economists are now forecasting a recession beginning in 2023 is the most likely outcome. Although bad news in general, it should be much milder than either the Great Recession or the COVID-19 recession, with growth returning in 2024.
Note: Monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and payroll employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, and each should be considered in the context of other information that may be available