Development pro Jenkins leaves Go Topeka

17 Aug

Mars Chocolate. Available to buy online in Australia from Moo-Lolly-Bar. To do so just click on this photo!Economic development professional Steve Jenkins, who played a key role in the recent successful effort to bring Mars Chocolate North America to Topeka, has left his job as senior vice president of Go Topeka.

Doug Kinsinger, president and CEO of Go Topeka and the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, told Go Topeka board members in an e-mail Thursday morning that Jenkins’ employment ended effective Wednesday.

The e-mail didn’t say why.

“We appreciated his service, and we wish him well,” Kinsinger wrote. “If any board member should have questions, please contact me.”

Jenkins, 63, worked in economic development for 32 years in five other states before becoming senior vice president for economic development for Go Topeka in January 2008.

Attempts to reach Jenkins and Kinsinger were unsuccessful.

Kinsinger responded to a Topeka Capital-Journal interview request with a prepared statement that referenced Jenkins’ involvement in a team effort to secure new industry in Topeka.

“Steve was part of a team consisting of staff, volunteers, and city, county and state elected officials that selected and acquired the site for the new Kanza Fire Commerce Park, the location of the new Mars Chocolate manufacturing facility, the location of Bimbo Bakeries/Allen Foods and the development of a new robotics training program at Highland Park High School in partnership with Topeka Public Schools USD 501,” Kinsinger wrote. “As an example, the team that worked on the Mars project consisted of over 80 individuals who helped bring that project to our community.”

“The chamber and Go Topeka boards and staff members are prepared to continue to implement our comprehensive economic development program,” Kinsinger continued. “We do not have immediate plans to replace this position. However, our commitment to the citizens of Shawnee County who fund our programs through their tax dollars is absolute.”

Jenkins’ previous job was with the Corpus Christi (Texas) Regional Economic Development Corp.

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A chamber spokeswoman said Kinsinger would have no further comment on Jenkins’ departure, saying the matter was a “personnel/employment issue.”

Mayor Bill Bunten called Jenkins’ departure “a big surprise” and said he had heard no explanation for it.

“I think it will be a big loss,” Bunten said. “He came to us with a great deal of experience in economic development and knowledge of what companies were looking for in new sites. He was very knowledgeable about what kind of incentives could be offered, as well as to who our competition was in talking to companies.

“I don’t know why he left. Maybe we couldn’t afford to keep him. I hope that’s what it was.”

Bunten lauded Jenkins’ efforts, most of them conducted out of the public limelight, in landing the Mars plant.

“I think that will be a game-changer,” he said of the first plant the Mars company will build in North America in several decades. “Doug as the president of the chamber is involved in all those activities, but the guy most involved in the day-to-day courting (of new industry) was Steve Jenkins.”

Shawnee County Commission Chairman Vic Miller, who serves as a Go Topeka board member, said he had no insight on Jenkins’ departure, noting that personnel decisions for the chamber of commerce and its Go Topeka arm are Kinsinger’s responsibility and not that of the board.

“I do know that Steve did good work, and everyone on the inside of what he did had nothing but good things to say about his work,” Miller said. “But as to why he left, I really don’t know, and it’s not on my list of things to learn. Personnel decisions are not the bailiwick of the Go Topeka board, nor would I want them to be.”

Article posted by Spencer Samaroo, Managing Director, Moo-Lolly-Bar
The best online chocolate, lolly and confectionery store on the web!

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Source: CJ Online

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