Wyandotte County has the highest unemployment rate of all the counties in Kansas at 7.1 percent, according to September statistics released today by the Kansas Department of Labor.

Kansas City, Kan., has the highest unemployment rate of all the largest cities in the state, at 7.2 percent, according to information from the Kansas Department of Labor.

Unemployment in Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., decreased by about four-tenths of one percent from the August rate, according to the report. The rate declined about six-tenths of one percent from one year ago.

In Wyandotte County, 4,921 persons were listed by today’s report as unemployed. There were 64,655 persons employed in Wyandotte County.

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by Mary Rupert
Kansas City, Kan., can expect some good business effects from the Kansas City Royals being in the World Series starting Tuesday night in Kansas City, Mo.

Although all of the official events are taking place in Kansas City, Mo., Bridgette Jobe, executive director of the Kansas City, Kan., Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she anticipated some increased hotel room nights in Kansas City, Kan.

She added the Kansas City, Mo., Convention and Visitors Association has taken the lead on all tourism efforts involving the World Series.

There are expected to be a large number of out-of-town visitors to the metropolitan area for the World Series, including a large media contingent.

Some visitors who were already planning to be in the metropolitan area for reasons other than the Royals probably will be compressed out of their normal stay on the Missouri side because of the game, Jobe said, and Kansas City, Kan., may pick up some room stays in the process.

Currently, she said she is working with the Missouri side convention officials to get banners out, and get a list compiled and sent to the Kansas City, Mo., convention association so that anyone looking for activities may find them.

While all official events are happening in Missouri, Jobe anticipates plenty of other types of events may be held on the Kansas side by restaurants or other businesses that are not official Major League Baseball events.

She noted that even if visitors are not staying in Kansas, they may be driving through the area and shopping here while they are in town.

The Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Kansas City, Kan., is planning to put a “Take the Crown” slogan on its marquee and electronic signage, she said. Also, she’s encouraging others with the capability of changing electronic signs to post the same message next week.

Jobe noted that another big plus for tourism in the area is that Sporting Kansas City, which plays its soccer games in Kansas City, Kan., has recently secured a spot in the Major League Soccer playoffs. The playoff spot was clinched at last Friday’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire at Sporting Park.

“It’s a good time to be in KC,” she said.

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With the help of three area companies, the University of Kansas School of Business is introducing a new research initiative this fall that will study the customer experience.

The Center for Integrated Customer Experience is a collaborative project between the school and founding partner Cerner Corp., along with Hill’s Pet Nutrition anad The University of Kansas Hospital. Directors Kissan Joseph and Alan Halfen will lead the center’s research, which will focus on the increasing complexity of understanding customers and how to interact with them.

“The options that firms have to communicate and connect with their customers are increasing, and the channels through which we can communicate have expanded,” Joseph said. “It’s not only print but websites and social media. Customers are getting more information, and they are more demanding about the service experience.”

The center’s research will help bridge the gap between real industry issues and the school’s research capabilities.

“Companies are currently evaluating the way they interact with their customers, and they want to know about their customers, but at times external insight and experience in capturing consumer perception and preference is helpful,” Halfen said. “We can come into that role and help them develop research projects that hone in on the specific things they want to know about their company and about their customers.”

In addition to producing meaningful research, the center also provides opportunities for students. As part of the partnership, Cerner will provide two fellowships and Hill’s Pet Nutrition and The University of Kansas Hospital will each provide one fellowship for MBA students to participate in the center’s research.

“It’s important to involve students because it’s a service to the companies, and it’s a good opportunity for students to learn to develop and carry out research projects,” Halfen said. “That’s experience they can use in their careers in the future.”

Students will gain firsthand knowledge about the issues companies face and how they adapt their marketing strategy, Joseph added. Having skilled students on board is also helpful to the center’s work. With so much analysis and so many details to implement, smart and capable manpower is very welcome, he said.

Forging relationships like this are fruitful for all entities involved, Joseph said, and he’s excited to see them at the School of Business.

“The challenges, the opportunities, the paths for businesses these days are expanding, and there is a recognition that collaboration between businesses and universities can be productive not only for us, but for them as well,” he said. “Businesses get to solve real problems, and we get to do research with our students. For me as a professor that’s really exciting to be involved with.”

Halfen said the research partnerships also speak volumes of the businesses involved, making it a fulfilling experience for the researcher.

“It’s fun and exciting to work with people who really care about their customers and really want to come up with a good answer to solve problems,” he said.
- Story from KU