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Development council finding common ground

Managing editor

Members of Marion County Economic Development Council made positive comments Dec. 16 as they talked about goals to help determine a direction for the group.

As part of a brainstorming exercise, members found they agreed that the purpose of the group is to network, collaborate with each other, and celebrate successes. The rivalry between Hillsboro and Marion also was discussed.

Smaller communities expressed a desire to hear what larger communities are doing to glean ideas and gain support.

“This is the only organization that represents the entire county,” Hillsboro representative Jim Elliott said. “None of us is large enough to be self-sustaining — not Hillsboro or Marion.”

Peabody Administrator Mac Manning said he brings nearly three decades of economic development experience to the table that he is willing to share with the council.

Hillsboro representative and city economic development professional Clint Seibel summed it up this way.

“We have to find the glue to hold us together. Promotion of the county is the glue. Maybe marketing is the glue,” he said.

Seibel continued, stating that the group needed to do a better job of accommodating 400,000 visitors annually at Marion Reservoir.

Smaller communities including Goessel, Florence, and Tampa appreciate support from the council. Many of the smaller communities rely on resources offered by county economic development director Teresa Huffman.

“This group shows county unity to people from outside the county,” Marion Mayor Mary Olson said.

In other business:

  • There was a consensus that an appointed representative could represent more than one community. Case in point is an individual interested in serving as a Marion representative because she works in Marion but lives in Lincolnville, and could also serve as a Lincolnville representative. The group would also welcome representatives from Marion County Lake and Eastshore Development area at Marion Reservoir.
  • More candidates for the 2010 class of Leadership Marion County are being sought. Three people have signed up from Florence, Hillsboro, and Lost Springs, with three more who are interested.
  • Eight radio ads at $10 each were approved on Radio Kansas.
  • Two local foundations received matching grant funds from Kansas Health Foundation. Hillsboro Community Foundation has been approved for $300,000; Peabody Community Foundation received $180,000.
  • Symphony in the Flint Hills will no longer encourage host communities. Next year’s symphony will be in Chase County again, this time near Bazaar. Marion County will be included in a visitors’ guide that will be distributed to 5,000 people.
  • Signup sheets were distributed for upcoming trade shows including the Kansas Sports, Boat, and Travel Show in Wichita; Wichita Garden Show; Great Escapes at Fort Riley; and Kansas Sampler Festival at Leavenworth.

The next council meeting will be at noon Jan. 19 instead of Jan. 20 because of a conflict for Huffman. The location was not announced.

Last modified Dec. 23, 2009

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