Since announcing the start of the Kansas Framework for Growth process several weeks ago, participation by the business, economic development and higher education communities has been tremendous. More than 500 members of Kansas businesses, economic development and community organizations, academia, and local and state government have participated in regional stakeholder workshops around the state and completed the online survey with ideas on how to overcome some of Kansas’ barriers to faster economic growth.
“I’ve been overcome – but not surprised – with the community’s interest in participating in this process,” Christy Hopkins said. Hopkins is a member of the steering team for the initiative, director of community development for Greeley County and a board member of Western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance (wKREDA). “It’s been more than 30 years since the state of Kansas had an economic development plan, and I’m excited about the potential of what we’re doing with the Framework for Growth, especially with so many engaged stakeholders.”
Seven regional stakeholder workshops were held in late October and early November in Russell, Colby, Dodge City, Manhattan, Wichita, Lawrence and Fort Scott.
The workshops were facilitated by a team from McKinsey & Company, who were tapped to help research and analyze the Kansas economy and deliver a comprehensive economic development blueprint for the state. The McKinsey team has also been meeting one-on-one with key members of the Kansas business and economic development communities.
Cody Foster, owner of Advisors Excel in Topeka and member of the Framework’s Business Council is encouraged by the engagement of the state’s business community. “The ability of our state to attract, retain and grow businesses is a critical component of our overall economic health,” Foster said. “The workshops, one-on-one interviews and the Framework Business Council have all provided opportunities for the Kansas business community to engage in this process, and I’ve been really pleased to see leaders from across the state, in all industries, step up and contribute to this important initiative.”
Phase one of planning – assessment and benchmarking – is still underway, and stakeholder engagement will continue to be its centerpiece. Public town halls will also be held in early December to share progress and gather feedback from those unable to attend the regional stakeholder meetings. The town halls will take place in Hays, Kansas City, Liberal and McPherson. Click here for more information.
The next steps in the process are benchmarking best practices from other states, reviewing recommendations and developing a proposed implementation plan to accelerate growth in Kansas. Upon delivery of the draft plan, stakeholder engagement will continue. Individuals will have the opportunity to review key findings and implementation recommendations and provide input on viability.
“I think it’s important to understand that this process doesn’t end when a draft plan is delivered. The plan will evolve based on further stakeholder engagement, and the implementation of recommendations that come from the plan won’t happen overnight,” said Andrew Nave, executive vice president of economic development for Greater Wichita Partnership and member of the Framework for Growth steering team. “While some of the recommendations might be able to be implemented quickly, others will likely take several months, or even years. Ongoing communication and engagement with our business, community and governing partners is critical to ensuring the right elements of the plan are implemented at the right time and place.”