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Aiming high
Community vision coming into focus
Life on the Ark.jpg

The Great Bend - Better Than Great! community visioning committee has come up with a Top Ten list of goals.

No. 3 on the list, “Diversify the Great Bend economy with one additional industry by 2030,” was the item that resonated most with the men and women who attended the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet last Saturday, according to Chamber President Jan Peters. She shared that information Tuesday with the Barton Community College Board of Trustees. Two BCC employees, Vice President of Instruction and Student Services Elaine Simmons and Barton Coordinator of Workforce Training Projects & Events Krystall Barnes, were involved in the visioning group, as was Mike Johnson, president of the BCC Board of Trustees.

“People have gotten really creative with their ideas,” Barnes said.

At the core of the visioning committee is the Barton County Young Professionals, which Peters described as “an amazing group. They want to be involved in the community. They want to make a difference,” she said.

The next question is how to reach the goals, which also include No. 4, “Increase the education and training attainment level by 2030.”

Guess who will be helping with that one, Peters asked the college trustees.

Simmons noted that the list of the county’s top employers places Great Bend USD 428 and Barton Community College first and second, respectively. The college already has partnerships with business leaders who give advice on skills employees need.

College officials again noted a recent report on the economic impact Barton has on the community. It shows that Barton received $8 million in local property taxes in 2017 and then spent more than $7 million in Barton County; employees living in the county were paid more than $12.6 million in wages and students spent $2.6 million in the county. The total direct economic impact — without any “multipliers” sometimes used by number crunchers — adds up to $22,226,880, meaning every $8 taxpayers invested returned $22. The methodology used to reach these numbers has now been approved by the Fort Hays State University Docking Institute. The summary of the report can be found online at there is a link to the Docking Institute Review.

It’s easy to see how the college can play a key role in the visioning committee’s goals. Other areas will need the expertise of other entities and individuals. The City’s investment in the Great Bend Events Center comes to mind. It can be summed up by No. 10 on the list of goals: “Continue to be innovative and creative with community projects, events, business opportunities, public space and technology.”

Together, we can make it so.