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Eilert delivers State of the County address

Board of County Commission Chairman Ed Eilert today presented the 2018 State of the County address during a luncheon at the Ritz Charles.

Eilert’s address focused on job growth, the county’s commitment to entrepreneurship, and the educational and training opportunities available locally. He provided updates on new and ongoing county infrastructure projects including new parks and libraries, a new courthouse, medical’s examiner facility and wastewater treatment facility, along with recent achievements.

“The history of our community shows that progress has never been optional,” Eilert said. “Time after time, our residents have demonstrated their belief in — and support for — programs that will build an outstanding community. Let me assure you that the state of our country is strong and our future is bright.”

Key information shared in the 2018 address

  • Johnson County is the only county in Kansas or Missouri on USA Today’s list of the top 25 counties in the nation to live. It ranked No. 23 out of more than 3,000 U.S. counties—the top 1 percent nationally.
  • Nearly 54 percent of county adults have a bachelor’s degree (the largest percentage in the state and far above the 30 percent national average).
  • In the 2017 community survey, 97 percent rated the county a great place to live, with 96 percent of respondents calling it a great place to raise children and 90 percent saying it’s a great place to work.
  • According to the County Economic Research Institute, the jobless rate for Johnson County in November 2017 was 2.5 percent. The county’s year-ending jobless rate (2.9 percent) was lower than Kansas (3 percent), the metro (3.3 percent) and the national rate (3.9 percent).
  • Since the Great Recession, nearly 48,000 jobs have been created in Johnson County—accounting for 75 percent of total Kansas job growth.
  • Retail sales in Johnson County totaled more than $12.5 billion (a 2.3 percent increase in 2017, representing 26 percent of total retail sales in Kansas).
  • Johnson County maintains its “triple-triple” status for maintaining AAA general obligation bond ratings by the nation’s bond ratings agencies.

The chairman highlighted advancement opportunities available at area high schools and Johnson County Community College and through entities such as the Enterprise Center of Johnson County and the Women’s Business Center. “The opportunities to train or retrain is available here at home,” he said. “You can gain a marketable skill in Johnson County.”

The address also recognized the important work done by the county’s Human Services Department and Mental Health Center to serve vulnerable populations. In 2017, the Mental Health Center’s 24/7 crisis line received more than 21,000 calls, averaging 58 daily calls responding to crisis and helping at-risk residents.

His remarks closed with reaffirmation of the importance of educational opportunities to enhance and maintain communities and as a pathway to success.

“The message we must deliver, over and over again, is that regardless of an individual’s situation, the opportunity to advance a career is available in Johnson County,” Eilert said.

More than 700 people attended the address and luncheon at the Ritz Charles in Overland Park. The event was hosted by the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the Johnson County Public Policy Council. The full speech is available online.