Finney County Economic Development Corporation’s hopes to hand off the ever expanding

demands of maintaining and growing the Workforce Connection program were depleted as the

other local entities charged with moving the city and county forward declined to take on the

initiative as part of their current workload.

In letters to Tom Walker, FCEDC Board Chairman, the Garden City Chamber of Commerce,

Garden City Downtown Vision and Finney County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau all declined the

opportunity to help grow the community-wide campaign that helps businesses recruit, enhance

and retain a sustainable workforce in Finney County. Both Downtown Vision and CVB cited that

this endeavor, though important to the city’s and county’s overall economic development, was

not in the scope of their organization’s mission. The Chamber’s letter stated that it “has always

had workforce development as a top priority when working for its members” and that part of its

mission is to “aid in economic growth and development.”

The three entities stated that they would continue to support FCEDC’s efforts to bring qualified,

certified and trainable workers to fill the more than 950 current job openings in Finney County.

When asked what FCEDC will do with the program now, Walker said, “We’ll keep it, of course, in

spite of the increasing number of prospects we are working with that are considering moving or

expanding their companies to our communities. Our staff has put together a pretty well-oiled

machine with most of the infrastructure like compiling email lists, overseeing employment

recruitment and retention, youth employment opportunities, employment for those with

special needs and folks moving out of the corrections system as well as maintaining the website,

virtual job fair, and the creation of documents for the program to do its work. There is much to

do.”

Initially, Garden City Community College was the facilitator of the program before dissolving the

managing department. It was then given to FCEDC.

In other business, Lona DuVall, FCEDC president, reported on the impact the need for childcare

is having on recruitment and retention of the local workforce. She said currently there is a need

for two large, one medium and one small sized childcare facilities to meet just the current

demand.

Representatives from Wyoming traveled to Garden City to talk with FCEDC staff about energy

policies, overall economic development and the process used for handling prospective

developers, companies and businesses. DuVall explained that the number of calls from counties

both inside Kansas and out-of- state seeking “how to” advice and information had reached a

point where the staff developed a PowerPoint presentation to send to those seeking the

aforementioned information.

Bob Kreutzer, county Board representative, suggested that a similar PowerPoint packet that was

developed and handed out to members of the Home Builders Association be put together for

distribution among the City’s Inspection and Neighborhood and Development Services

Departments, developers along with architects and developers. The packet would include details

for getting permits, suggested timelines, contact people, etc., so that commercial builders,

whether local or out-of- town, would all have the same information.

Scott Aust, FCEDC Communications Director, reported on the activity on the corporation’s

website, which went live on July 7, and had 5,640 visits to the site in the last three weeks. Aust

posts stories from the Greater Garden City website to both the Greater Garden City and Garden

City Journal Facebook pages. On Facebook, the Garden City Journal page had posts that reached

16,023 people in just the last week. The Greater Garden City Facebook page has had 120 page

likes and reached 1,110 people over the past three weeks.

Nicole Hahn, FCEDC project manager, reported on workforce development activities including

her and DuVall’s recent trip to Fort Riley where they spoke to 15 career military personnel who

were set to retire in the near future. The soldiers had signed up to attend FCEDC’s three-hour

session and were very interested in what Garden City had to offer in the areas of manufacturing

and logistics. She also gave an update on the Virtual Job Fair and targeted Facebook ads aimed

at healthcare and manufacturing employees throughout Texas where the staff had seen a larger

than average unemployment rate among healthcare workers . Of the 3,076 hits from the ad,

there were 92 clicks to the job site of which 70 percent were female with the majority coming

from the 45-54 age group. That was followed by the 25-34 demographic. The 30 percent male

respondents were most represented by the 55+ category.

Under new business, the City’s Community Housing Assessment Team (CHAT) final report is now

available for perusal on FCEDC’s website (www.ficoedc.com) or the City’s website (www.garden-

city.org). It reviews the progress made in the last two years by examining new housing

completions, the demand in each category (single family unites, apartments, duplexes, senior

living, price ranges, etc.) and then determines how many and what kind of housing needs to be

built. Kreutzer suggested that DuVall bring together housing lenders, realtors, and builders in

one setting and discuss the report’s findings.