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Organization Spotlight: Sumner County Economic Development

Sumner County Economic Development Commission and Caldwell Workspace Growing Sumner County

In 1991, a strategic plan for Sumner County was prepared with funding assistance from the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing. In 1996, this plan was updated by the Sumner County Commissioners, Sumner County Economic Development Advisory Committee, and County and City staff. Funding and creation of an organization to implement the recommended actions contained in the 1991 and 1996 economic development strategic plans occurred in 1997. Bylaws were approved and interlocal agreements were signed to create the Sumner County Economic Development Commission (SCEDC) governed by a Board of Directors. Sumner County and the Cities of Caldwell, Conway Springs, Oxford, and Wellington created the organization now known as SCEDC. The SCEDC employed a full-time director for the first time in early 1998. In 1999, the Cities of Argonia and Mulvane joined SCEDC, with the City of South Haven joining in 2000, the City of Belle Plaine in 2003, and the City of Mayfield in 2016. Each member community and the County Commissioner are represented on the Board of Directors by a representative from their community, except for Wellington, which has two representatives. In 2015, Workforce Alliance of South-Central Kansas started collocating with SCEDC providing services for job seekers and assisting companies with workforce recruitment.

What exactly is economic development? According to the International Economic Development Council, “Economic development is the intentional practice of improving a community’s economic well-being and quality of life. It includes a broad range of activities to attract, create, and retain jobs, and foster a resilient, pro-growth tax base and an inclusive economy. The practice of economic development comprises of a collaborative effort involving industry, government, and myriad community stakeholders.”

Professional economic developers engage in several tasks which support their community’s economic development. Economic developers may specialize in one or more areas but understanding the intersections of all economic development is essential to success. Economic developers regularly engage in:

· Business Retention and Expansion

· Marketing and Attraction

· Entrepreneur and Small Business Development

· Technology Commercialization

· Real Estate Development

· Finance

· Workforce Development

· Strategic Planning

· Disaster Recovery and Resiliency

· International Opportunities

· Grant Opportunities

In 2020, Sumner County Economic Development Commission created the Caldwell Workspace in partnership with the City of Caldwell and KanOkla. Located at 110 S. Main in Caldwell, this space is a co-working environment where startup founders, small business owners, freelancers, and remote workers share a common workspace and equipment to lower overhead costs and build networks. Currently, the Caldwell Workspace is home to a kiosk for South Central Workforce Alliance for the job seekers, Midwest Dance Expressions, Dr. Justin Knapic who offers chiropractic services, Farmers Insurance Agent, Keith Lloyd, and the Sumner County Treasurers tag office (currently closed due to staffing shortage).

Managed by Lori Barnes, the Workspace offers copying services, notary services, meeting room space, and the calendar for the Caldwell Cooks licensed kitchen at the Community Building. Lori is in the office 9-12 and 1-5 Monday through Friday, but as a member of the Caldwell Workspace, you have keyless access 24-7. Please contact Lori Barnes for membership information, daily rental, or any questions you may have at 620-845-6779.

Sumner County Economic Development Commission’s mission is “to grow communities of Sumner County through business activity with innovative economic development programs.” To succeed with our mission, we provide assistance to new and existing businesses, as well as local cities and community projects. A team of trained economic development staff includes Stacy Davis, Executive Director, Joslyn Heersche, Executive Administrative Assistant, Austin Lloyd, Special Projects Assistant, and Lori Barnes, Caldwell Workspace Administrative Assistant.


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