The Garden City Telegram
4/23/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Mayoral push

Collaboration remains key in future economic growth.

The new mayor of Garden City has seen plenty of growth in the community.

After arriving as a youngster in 1948, Dan Fankhauser lived in a Garden City of about 8,100 residents. Now some 30,000 strong, the community has seen significant population growth — and now is poised for more economic growth.

Upon becoming mayor last week, Fankhauser cited a continued commitment to retail growth as an objective. He also ran down a meaty list of priorities that included downtown development, new housing, working with Dodge City and Liberal in a regional cooperative effort, improvements at Garden City Regional Airport and local attractions, and more.

Everything on the list goes hand-in-hand in a community interested in developments that grow the local tax base and make the community a better place to live and do business.

Give local officials credit for already 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.

When it comes to overall economic prosperity moving forward, the challenge is in devising strategies that create and maintain good jobs.

Such incentives and programs require funding. Whether the dollars come from private or public sources, they're a needed investment in the community's future.

Fankhauser rightly placed economic development among top priorities. As part of that, improving ways to adequately fund that mission must be a goal.

Indeed, local governments should do more to work alongside the Finney County Economic Development Corp. and other eco-devo forces to properly power those initiatives.

For one, ongoing negotiations over bed-tax funds that support endeavors of the Convention and Visitors Bureau — tax receipts projected at $800,000 in the CVB's 2013 budget — should result in some of those dollars being used to fuel economic development efforts, as well.

The city commission has no control over those funds and expenditures. The county does.

But as a community leader, the new mayor can be instrumental in any future talks and collaboration with stakeholders that allow the community to maximize all of its resources — taxes and beyond.

We wish him luck.