Newton City Commissioners and Harvey County Economic Development Council board members discussed the future of local economic development at a special joint work session Wednesday evening. Officials may try to explore some new avenues for marketing the county as a whole.
"When one community brings in a new company, the entire county benefits," said Jason Jones, a member of the Hesston City Council. "… It truly is a trickledown effect."
"We’re really in the same boat here," Halstead City Administrator J.R. Hatfield agreed.
The groups discussed the future of the Kansas Logistics Park Development Authority, an entity designed to take on management and operational responsibilities for the logistics park as the project grows. Right now the organization has not been allocated any of its own money for spending. Officials talked about giving the group some spending authority, as well as bringing in more experts from private industry to serve on the team, along with government officials.
Another item discussed was the economic development consultant hired to help with the Kansas Logistics Park project. Newton Mayor Jim Nickel asked other officials if they thought the consultant should be retained or if Newton should try another route.
Commissioner Glen Davis said he would like to pay the consultant by commission, based on results. He also suggested using the city-county airport as an avenue to market the KLP, perhaps putting up a display at the airport showing incoming business officials what the park has to offer.
Mickey Fornaro-Dean, executive director of the Harvey County Economic Development Council, said the EDC continues to promote the county as a place for doing business, marketing on a local, regional and national level. The EDC has created a new website for the KLP and is reaching out to commercial real estate agents.
"We’re trying to work on it on a much larger basis than just locally," she said.
Tucky Allen, a representative of Kansas WorkForceOne who has offices in Newton, encouraged officials to continue working on economic development, and he has already seen results from that work.
"The action is here in Harvey County," Allen said. "Harvey County needs to remain progressive."
Officials plan to continue discussing and researching the issues.