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Tourism key to state
Local projects play into statewide improvement effort
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 The travel sector is an integral part of the Kansas economy contributing more than $10 billion in expenditures and sustains over 94,000 jobs. And this continues to grow, making it one of the fastest expanding portions of the state’s economy, noted Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Barnett.

Barnett and others at the state and local level are grasping just how important tourism and quality of life-issues really and, not only to Kansas as a whole, but to our little part of it as well.

Some examples include:

• The City of Great Bend is planning on renovations to the hike-bike trail, openly noting that it is a key component of the community’s economic development package linked to tourism.

• Barton County has installed signs on many rural blacktops calling motorists’ attention to bicyclists.

• The Be Well Barton County initiative continues to promote active transportation, having completed a master plan for the county that has been endorsed by all municipalities.

• The Barton County Young Professionals group has already installed bike racks around the county, utilizing money it raised from its annual half marathon.

• The Central Baptist Church in Great Bend has installed a bicycle repair station as a community outreach project as a way to give back to residents and promote healthier lifestyles.

• Walmart in Great Bend had installed bike racks by each entrance.

Barnett said it is crucial for the state to improve its infrastructure for pedestrian traffic and bolster tourism. Sure, these are tourism tools, but they are also ways to better the quality of life in Kansas.

As we strive to lure new families to the state, efforts in Topeka and here at home are crucial to making Kansas more attractive. In many ways, these are all economic development engines that will have long-ranging ramifications for the better.

Dale Hogg