The newly formed Great Bend Economic Development Inc. has been busy, GBED Board member and City Councilwoman Jolene Biggs told fellow council members Monday night. The 501 c (6) non-profit entity replaces the long-standing relationship the city had with the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce for economic development services.
“Just so you know, we’ve been working really hard,” she said, offering an update on the eco devo group.
The GBED is governed by a five-member board of directors. Two positions are selected by the council with priority given to sitting council members, two are selected by the chamber, and those first four board members select the remaining at-large member.
Biggs joins Councilman Barry Bowers as the city representatives. They are joined by chamber reps Mark Calcara and Mark Chalfant, and at-large member Dennis Neeland.
“Our committee has met many times,” she said. “And since we were first together, we started (looking at) other communities and getting ideas that have worked for them.”
The committee went to Garden City and visited with the development director there. “As you all know has been very, very successful with economic development in their community, so that was that was a very interesting day for all of us.”
They also met with the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce to review what potential businesses they had worked with and what prospects are still pending. “We were able to get an update from them on where things are.”
So far, Biggs said they have received applications for the economic development director’s job and we have interviewed one individual for the position. The help-wanted ad was resubmitted prior to Christmas and is running on over six different websites in hopes of getting additional responses.
“We knew with the holiday that there would be a delay, so we’re hoping to be getting some additional applications here in the next couple of weeks,” she said.
“Our committee has been very busy,” she said. “It’s like a start-up new business, So we are trying to pull everything together and do lots of planning.”
All the board members have different ideas. “It’s been very interesting and a little difficult to pull together so we all have one vision,” she said.
However, progress will take time.
“We do ask that the public be patient with us as we determine what assets we have in our area that will match up to potential businesses,” she said. “This will not be a quick fix. Communities all over the state and all over the country are trying to lure businesses.
“Economic development takes all of the community to be successful. I personally believe that it takes all of us,” she said. “It’s not just this committee, a takes every individual out there and if you hear something about a potential business or know of someone, please share that.
“We will continue to work hard for this community for this community and for the future of Great Bend,” Biggs said.
The city’s economic development funding will continue to be derived from the 20% of the half-cent sales tax.