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Opening the door
New company likes what it sees in Great Bend
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Often when chamber of commerce and other economic development officials stand before governing bodies to give their reports, they fill the room with vague generalities. Frustratingly vague generalities.
“We are working with a number of prospects,” they say. “We’re getting close. There will be a big announcement soon.”
Months pass, and the officials return for a follow-up report.  “We are working with a number of prospects. We’re getting close. There will be a big announcement soon.”
It’s easy to dismiss their comments.
But, at the Great Bend City Council meeting this past Monday night, one of those vague generalities was present with Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters. It was a multi-national group of entrepreneurs from Santa Maria, Calif., seeking to locate a state-of-the-art tire recycling business, Blizzard Energy, at the Great Bend Municipal Airport.
These are businessmen and women from Russia and Germany, as well as the United States, willing to move to where many of them probably thought was the middle of nowhere. Indeed, chambers in Colorado, Nevada and Idaho were in the hunt to  bag Blizzard.
But, in the end, they picked us. “We were very welcomed,” said Valentin Alexandrov, the company’s chief executive officer. “We were treated like relatives.”
Small-town charm along with Kansas’ business-friendly environment trumped the other contenders.
To start with, Blizzard will employ 25 people and make a $5 million investment. With millions of tons of old tires in the United States, there is also a chance this green business will expand.
There is a reason for secrecy in economic development negotiations. No one wants to tip their hand to the competition and there are a lot of sensitive matters that can’t be divulged until the ink is dry on the contracts.
Blizzard officials praised Great Bend for not only its atmosphere, but also for its progressiveness.
You can have the best of both worlds.
Dale Hogg