It was about time, Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters said.
She was referring to the announcement this week by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Secretary of Commerce David Toland that they have kicked off the development of the “Framework for Growth.” It is described as a “robust strategy to accelerate economic growth in the state of Kansas.”
“All of us are very excited,” Peters said. The last comprehensive report on economic development in the state came in 1986.
The announcement comes after a months-long search for a professional consulting services firm to help research and analyze the Kansas economy and deliver a comprehensive economic development blueprint for the state. “They were asking all of us for input,” Peters said.
“It is certainly very, very good news for all of us,” she said.
“The economic challenges facing Kansas require innovative solutions and a well-coordinated approach,” Kelly said. “It’s been more than 30 years since the state had a formal strategy to accelerate economic development. The creation and implementation of a new economic growth strategy, along with other initiatives such as tax reform, will help ensure Kansas remains an attractive place for individuals and businesses alike.”
In coordination with members of Kansas businesses and economic development organizations, the Commerce team will develop the first economic development strategy for the state of Kansas since the Redwood-Krider report was issued in 1986.
“Kansas’ lack of a strategy has resulted in our state lagging in some key economic indicators such as GDP growth, population growth and labor participation. Under the leadership of Governor Kelly, I’m excited to announce that we have now embarked on a necessary journey to bring Kansas back to best in class,” Secretary Toland said. “To be competitive in today’s global economy, we must identify and pursue new, nimble economic best practices. It’s past time that we develop a thoughtful, strategic plan to guide Kansas forward.”
A steering committee consisting of economic development professionals, Kansas business leaders and Commerce staff has been created to guide the team through the planning process and the development of the Framework for Growth.
Peters hopes Great Bend and area interests represented on this committee. “Hopefully, we can get someone on there.”
“Our local and regional economic development partners and business stakeholders are critical to our success as a state, so as we put together the team who would guide this process, it was important they were represented in the steering committee,” Toland said. “We also want to ensure that all interested stakeholders have the opportunity to be involved in this process and have created an online survey to capture feedback and allow individuals to share their ideas of how to create long-term prosperity for Kansas.”
The Department of Commerce selected Chicago-based consultants McKinsey and Company as its partner for this important initiative. The work over the next several months will be broken into three phases: assessment and benchmarking, recommendations and best practices, and implementation planning. Each of these phases will be underpinned by ongoing stakeholder and public engagement, and the Department of Commerce will provide progress reports upon the completion of each phase.
For more information on the Kansas Framework for Growth, visit www.kansasgrowth.com.