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From housing to history, GBED is hopping
Eco devo has several projects in the works
Sara Hayden
Sara Hayden

From housing to childcare to entrepreneurship, Great Bend Economic Development Inc. has a lot of irons in the fire, GBED President Sara Hayden told the City Council Monday night. But, all are moving ahead nicely.

“We have some large projects we’ve been doing,” she said during her monthly report. “Just wanted to give you all an update.”


“So as far as housing goes, our housing group that we’ve assembled has gathered for our first meeting,” she said. They heard from Mollea Wainscott, who is in charge of the housing program in Dodge City.

“They’ve done some pretty incredible things there,” Hayden said. “She took the hour to share with us some of the things that they’ve seen success with so that maybe we’re able to duplicate those or change them to make sense for Great Bend.” 

Hayden said they are hoping to have their first housing incentive launched in July. That program would focus solely on facade renovations.

“There will be more to come. But that is one we feel like we can get in place pretty quickly.” 

On a related note, she said she will attend the Western Kansas Rural Economic Developers conference Wednesday in Greensburg. “The main topic for discussion will be housing in rural communities, so I’m hopeful that will fall right into what we’re doing and benefit us here as well.”


“Childcare is the other thing that is a big focus right now,” Hayden said. They have applied for a state grant, but won’t learn until July 1 if they were successful.

“In the meantime, we’ve met with a childcare facility and Ellinwood as well as in Hoisington,” she said. “We’re exploring ways that we can partner together to make sure that any progress we see in childcare benefits them as well, because this really is a county-wide problem, not just a Great Bend problem.”


“We are moving forward with that program,” she said. Their goal is to put together a full-scale entrepreneurship program, “so that we really can be a community that supports and encourage entrepreneurs.”

Hayden and a small group of people will tour the Innosphere in Fort Collins, Colo., on June 25. “They do have a full-scale program that’s been very, very successful for many years. So again we’re hoping to not reinvent the wheel, but rather go and find out what’s made them successful and see what we’re able to take back to our community.” 


The Great Bend Workforce Connection has now met twice, she said. Their initial projects are programs related to youth training and a large-scale talent fair that will benefit both employers and job seekers.

“We’re pretty excited to launch that,” she said.

Historic Great Bend

GBED will hold an informational session June 18 at the Events Center for anyone with downtown properties that are historic buildings. “The goal of that meeting will be to discuss with the Kansas Historical Society some of the things regarding becoming a historic destination for our downtown,” she said.

If the city is able to do this, it would enable any property owners in that district to go after tax credits and grants each year to help fund major renovation projects, she said.