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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Commissioners hear economic development update

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  • “It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.” Mickey Fornaro-Dean, executive director of the Harvey County Economic Development Council, likes to reference this quote from Winston Churchill when she talks about economic development, because she thinks it illustrates the importance of vision and forward-thinking in planning for the future. “Sometimes people say things can’t happen … but those people who persevere become more successful than people ever dreamed,” Fornaro-Dean said during a presentation Tuesday morning at the Newton City Commission meeting. She said the Kansas Logistics Park is part of the Economic Development Council’s efforts to practice proactive vs. reactive economic development. She wants Harvey County to be able to get ahead of the game and take advantage of resources such as its skilled workforce; transportation access (rail, highway, etc.); its central location in the United States; and its proximity to the urban center of Wichita — it’s close enough to take advantage of Sedgwick County resources but far enough out it can avoid the congestion of a bigger city. Right now transportation, logistics and manufacturing are buzz words in economic development, and Fornaro-Dean said these are things Newton and Harvey County are focused on. She said the key to successful economic development is specifying desired outcomes and building collaborative relationships on a local, regional and even national level. The EDC already has partners on the KLP project — such as Kansas Global Trade Services, Tulsa Port of Catoosa, CIBOR, BNSF Railway, and others — and it is seeking to build more collaborative relationships through a KLP advisory task force. This task force has representatives from different industries and companies like Horizon Milling, AGCO, Knork, the Kansas City Port Authority and the Kansas Department of Transportation. The task force already has met twice, and City Attorney Bob Myers said the group is being asked to give their suggestions, comments and critiques of the KLP project. “It has been exciting to see their level of interest, and their level of excitement in this project,” Fornaro-Dean said. “... They are very excited to share their expertise and knowledge.” Fornaro-Dean has been making presentations about economic development to different community groups, and she said so far she has received a positive response. Commissioner Glen Davis thanked Fornaro-Dean for her efforts to share information about economic development with Harvey County and Newton residents. “I’d like to thank you for getting the community more involved,” Davis said. 
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