The Finney County Economic Development Corp. reviewed its progress over the past year and looked to the future at its annual meeting Wednesday.

FCEDC board Chairman Tom Walker told those in attendance that the county had grown across all industries. Sales tax collected and property valuations in the county had risen, and the airport had seen more activity.

“It doesn’t matter whether you live out in the county or you live in Holcomb or Garden City. When good things happen in any one of these areas, they benefit all of the areas that are there,” Walker said.

The growth in Finney County in 2018 has largely been diversified across several sectors and industries, said Lona DuVall, FCEDC president and CEO. The county saw a rise in real property valuation for the eighth year in a row, now well over $350,000,000. Collected sales taxes also saw a boost, bumping up to $9 million.

Transient guest tax had dropped down from 2017’s nearly $1 million to be more on par with 2016, 2015 and 2014’s rates of roughly $800,000. Unemployment rates also rested well below the amount of electronically advertised jobs, she said.

“We continue to grow. We want to continue to create opportunities, but we have to be mindful of the fact that we have to get more people to live in our community,” DuVall said. “We have to continue building housing, and we have to continue doing the quality of life initiatives that make folks want to live in our community.”

Much progress would run into the goals for 2019. DuVall said the county was closer to receiving an update from a Community Housing Assessment Team study, which would be passed on to landlords, but she did not expect much change moving forward.

“We’ve made some good progress on housing, but we’re certainly nowhere near keeping up with the demands of meeting the basic needs each year,” DuVall said.

She said she expected the FCEDC would make significant progress with childcare infrastructure efforts and a Great Plains MakerSpace facility this year, and would move forward on broadband options in Holcomb.

In 2018, the state approved two FCEDC-submitted Qualified Opportunity Zones in Finney County, one encompassing some of downtown Garden City, undeveloped land north and south of town, and another including land to the east of Garden City.

The zones incentivize investor support of the areas, DuVall said, and some of the potential gains are an untapped resource.

The FCEDC’s goals and opportunities will carry on from last year as they work to better local communities and attract businesses to the area through a myriad of avenues, DuVall said. The FCEDC plans to continue to develop industrial prospects, improve the community through housing and workforce development projects and advocate for the area through area partnerships, grant writing and as a proponent in the local, state and national government, she said.

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.