Sara Hayden knew Bill Murphy was new to his position at the Kansas Department of Commerce and asked him to get an early look at Great Bend as part of his introduction to the state.
Hayden is president of Great Bend Economic Development (GBED) and Murphy is about three months into his job as deputy secretary of business development. Murphy, Hayden and other local and state officials recently visited several Great Bend employers while touring Great Bend.
“Bill oversees efforts to recruit new businesses and expand existing businesses,” Hayden noted. “I invited him to town so we could make an early impression on him. We hope Bill will keep Great Bend in the front of his mind for future prospects.”
Murphy was most recently senior vice president of economic development at the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce in Oklahoma.
Sites visited on the tour were Fuller Industries LLC, Primus Sterilizer, Sunflower Diversified Services, Rosewood Services, Great Bend Transload Facility, Great Bend Airport and KansasWorks.
“With the help of the GBED Board of Directors, I chose these locations with specific thoughts in mind,” Hayden said. “When the state searches for businesses that would consider relocating, many times large manufacturing or technology companies are involved.
“Therefore, Fuller and Primus were selected to highlight our support of growing manufacturers. Fuller is a longtime fixture in Great Bend and Primus is enjoying new growth at its plant.”
Sunflower and Rosewood, Hayden continued, “are incredible and offer unique services for people with special needs who add so much vitality to our community. Both entities also provide employment opportunities that support the local business community.”
The transload facility and airport were included to demonstrate the local truck, rail and air transportation infrastructure.
“We discussed the transload successes since the facility opened in 2017,” Hayden said. “Most business prospects are very interested in all facets of transportation. Our local representatives explained to Bill how our infrastructure could benefit a new industry’s shipping needs.”
And since a workforce is a major factor in economic development, “we knew it was important to introduce Bill to our local KansasWorks office where he learned about current plans to recruit and train a new workforce if a new industry comes to town.”
Hayden also pointed out that the Oct. 23 five-hour tour included a drive around town, which led to discussions about the “many other thriving Great Bend businesses.”
She expressed her appreciation for Murphy, Tim Zimmerman, Commerce regional representative for Great Bend, and the local business community.
“The tour was a huge success,” Hayden commented. “We all appreciate Bill, Tim and their colleagues for making Great Bend a priority. I am beyond grateful that they took the time to learn we have much to offer.”
Murphy noted that “it is clear Great Bend has accomplished much and has tremendous opportunities yet to come. I saw first-hand the significant economic contributions happening in the community – from agriculture to manufacturing to downtown revitalization.
“Great Bend’s elected leaders and citizens should be commended for the investments they have made in a vibrant downtown and other areas of the community,” he added. “I also was incredibly impressed with the recreational assets of the area. I briefly visited Cheyenne Bottoms and couldn’t believe the amount of wildlife I saw.
“Our visit also highlighted the significant workforce-development services at KansasWorks. Business and community stakeholders alike were complimentary about the city’s economic-development efforts and showed a great deal of pride as they shared their stories.”
Murphy noted that Great Bend’s strategic location provides a lot of opportunities and “business leaders and community stakeholders here are top-notch.”
Hayden and Megan Barfield, Great Bend Chamber of Commerce president, are “great examples of talented economic development officials who work hard every day to bring opportunities to fruition. I am struck by their knowledge of the region’s assets and their strong desire to share information about the great things happening in Great Bend.”
Commerce supports local economic-development partners and provides tools they need to compete for new jobs and capital investment, Murphy said. This involves in-state business development managers, such as Zimmerman, working directly with their regional contacts.