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Local, state officials meet for economic development discussion
GBED mlee 2020
Jessica Milsap, left, Megan Barfield and Dan Steffen put their heads together at a recent economic development meeting. Milsap is president of Great Bend Economic Development Inc., Barfield is president/CEO of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Steffen is the Hays-based regional project manager at the Kansas Department of Commerce.

As president of the newly formed Great Bend Economic Development Inc. (GBED), Jessica Milsap acted on a piece of advice. She’s glad she did.

It had been suggested that Milsap meet with the Kansas Department of Commerce (KDOC) to learn about state business incentives and other economic development tools.

The result was a recent meeting in Great Bend with Dan Steffen, KDOC regional project manager of business development.

“Dan didn’t hesitate to visit with us about the various incentive programs the state has to offer,” Milsap said. “He has been with the commerce department for several years and is very knowledgeable.

“We reviewed several incentive programs, which will be extremely helpful in supporting and developing businesses in our community.”

Steffen outlined several avenues to seeking state incentives, including Promoting Employment Across Kansas, Kansas Industrial Training, Kansas Industrial Re-training and Kansas High Performance Incentive Program.

“Businesses that want to learn more about state incentives are encouraged to give me a call,” Milsap said. “There are a number of requirements for eligibility and we can help walk them through the application process with Dan’s support.”

Steffen noted that when he thinks of economic development, a “three-legged stool” comes to mind.

The three legs represent local start-up ventures, as well as expansion and retention of existing businesses.

“Oftentimes,” Steffen said, “when the general public thinks of economic development, they think mainly about recruitment of large companies. But it is a lot more than that.

“Yes, you have to be ready for something new but you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. We need to support existing businesses too.”

Milsap agreed. “If you look around the community, there are businesses that started with one or two employees that have prospered over the years. They now provide a number of quality jobs.

“The GBED board of directors and I are committed to supporting businesses no matter the size,” Milsap added. “We collaborate with the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and the city of Great Bend to help new and existing businesses.”

Megan Barfield, new chamber president and chief executive officer, said she and the chamber board are excited about this collaboration.

“Economic development is not a one-person job,” she explained. “By working together, we can leverage relationships across the state and the county. It has not been an easy road but we all agree that now is the time to roll up our sleeves and go to work – together.”

Barfield also noted that the commerce department is a helpful resource. “Dan Steffen was quick to offer to help me connect the dots with the robust programs at the state level.

“Being able to call on him for support is a huge help in matching companies with the resources they need. The more we know, the more we can help business owners.”

The GBED office is located in the Great Bend Events Center, 3111 10th; the number is 620-796-2407.