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Talks around eco devo continue
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A new sunflower-themed mural is planned for the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce wall in cooperation with the Barton Arts Movement group. - photo by Tribune file photo

Following Tuesday’s announcement that a Great Bend City Council committee wants the city to terminate its economic development contract and create a position for a city employee to coordinate ED activities, the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development met and issued a response.

The mayor-appointed committee will make its recommendation to the Great Bend City Council during the meeting that starts at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 17.

“The Board of Directors of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development respects the city’s attention to economic development and focus on the well-being of the economic prosperity of the community,” a statement issued by the Chamber board reads. “However, it is the consensus of the board of directors that the most advantageous structure for economic development is to continue the existing structure of housing the Economic Development staff and responsibilities within the Chamber of Commerce. In addition to this existing structure, the board of directors are supportive of discussions regarding the addition of an economic development advisory council and direct oversight by an executive committee comprised of members of the governing body as well as members of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development.

“The Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development looks forward to discussing the best way to create as much economic prosperity for Great Bend through continuing the important relationship with the City of Great Bend.”

A.J. Chrest, chairwoman of the chamber’s board of directors, confirmed that the statement was the consensus of the board and that the city’s contract with the chamber will end Dec. 31.

Jan Peters, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber & E.D. since 2006, said she feels she can point to a lot of success stories over her tenure, although she doesn’t take sole credit for that.

Peters said there have been $210 million is capital investments and 2,000 new jobs created through projects that include Bartlett Grain, the Transload Facility, American Ag Credit, the new USDA office and Sutherlands, for starters. The capital investments also include housing developments.

“It’s not about me; you don’t do economic development as one person,” she said. “Economic Development has been a top priority for the city,” Peters added.

“I think the bottom line – in my opinion - is will this function best in a government setting or a private setting?”

She concluded, “I want what’s best for the community.”