There has been much hoopla over the planned Great Bend Transload Facility to be located in the Great Bend Industrial Park west of town. The project has been in the works for about a year and the deal was consummated with a ground breaking ceremony Wednesday afternoon at the construction site.
This effort has been a public/private partnership between the Kansas Department of Transportation, Watco Companies (K&O Railroad), the City of Great Bend, Sherwood Construction, the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Fuller Industries.
At the celebration, representatives of each entity took turns extolling the virtues of Great Bend, the dedication of all the partners, and what the facility will bring to the community and all of western Kansas.
They see it as a shining example of cooperation and a great opportunity for job growth and economic development. For many in the area, these benefits may seem a little fuzzy and vague.
The public may also be a little unclear on just what transloading is. Transloading is the moving of goods from one mode (type of transportation) to another, in this case, from truck to rail and rail to truck. Proponents say this can help businesses, especially those in rural areas without access to inexpensive transportation, compete with larger firms on state, national and global scales.
The site itself will have some staff and, presumably, if the businesses served do more business, they can expand as well. How this will impact our local economy remains to be seen.
There are some things that are known.
True, there have been many hands in making this happen.
True, only Great Bend and Garden City were selected out of the original 111 cities that applied for the facility.
True, it has the support (verbal and financial) from the state which sees value in it.
True, this is a done deal and it will be operational by year’s end.
And, if for a modest investment at the local level we can step onto the world stage and help our state take on the big boys, then maybe it is worth it.
There are a lot of question marks. We can only assume these will be addressed as this project moves forward.
Only time will tell if this facility will live up to the hype, but it’s worth a shot.