The Garden City Telegram
1/31/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Bright future

City continues to improve its position as destination.

This week brought another dose of wacky Kansas weather.

On Monday, local residents basked in summer-like temperatures.

Some 24 hours later, the region was blanketed in snow — and that was something to celebrate.

The needed moisture came just as a new report detailed how an ongoing lack of precipitation has caused the winter wheat crop to deteriorate.

As of Monday, the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported 39 percent of Kansas' drought-ravaged crop already in poor to very poor condition. Forty-one percent was rated as fair, with 19 percent in good shape and just 1 percent in excellent condition.

Yet it's good to know that in spite of the crop woes, the local economic picture isn't all doom and gloom.

Garden City officials recently pointed to an encouraging economic trend in sales tax receipts, with the city collecting a record high of more than $5.52 million in 2012. The city's growing pull as a regional shopping destination was one factor cited in the 5.44 percent increase over 2011.

Many shoppers come in to hit the big-box stores — Walmart, Target and the like — but a growing number of visitors headed here for shopping, business and other reasons, also frequent other stores and restaurants, providing welcome income for the many smaller, independent retailers in town.

Credit local officials for being aggressive in improving Garden City's position as a regional shopping destination — especially as other area communities compete for the same kind of growth.

The city was instrumental in the arrival of Menards, with other stores expected to follow in that development. Mayor David Crase suggested as many as 19 more retailers could be part of the venture.

Each new arrival promises to do even more to boost sales taxes — many contributed by out-of-towners — that are put to good use in community improvements and services.

At a time drought continues to threaten crop and livestock operations, communities in rural western Kansas could use success stories. Garden City has as much in a brighter economic forecast, one that should even be able to weather the craziness we've come to expect from Mother Nature.