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western kansas economic development guide

What’s the Big Idea? Region breeds innovation culture Sponsored by the western Kansas Regional Economic Development Alliance | 2013

We’ve invested millions

in ourselves …

So YOUR investment in Scott Collaborators ✓ 2011 All-America City Award recipient – only nine Kansas communities across the nation earned this distinction over 64 years of recognition ✓ Fiscally sound city and county governments, year after year – Western Kansas is less affected by dips in the national economy ✓ SCDC and Chamber of Commerce partner with City, County and Community Foundation and E-Community Team ✓ Wheatland Electric Cooperative and other utilities serving Scott County are active proponents of community development

Chamber of Developm Commerce, Econo m ent and oth er local par ic provide a tner stro business s ng foundation for sm s uccess. E all ntrepr visionarie s are welco eneurs and me here!

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New $24 million critical a

Park is our Lake Scott State n the Nation s o ark dm an two l ct backdrop rfe pe a nd Places a

✓ State-of-the-art health-care facilities promote wellness at any age ✓ Known for pioneering scientific advances in farming for the region

Philanthropists ✓ More than $80 million in capital improvements over the past decade ✓ Scott Community Foundation is vibrant and visible, working to ensure local wealth remains ✓ Citizens generously support community projects with time, talent and contributions

Excellence in academics, athletics and fine arts are expected … and supported by the entire community.

A Partner and Resource for Local Entrepreneurs

For more information: Scott County Development Committee Inc.

County is secure! Population: 4,926 and counting!

Incentives & Features

#1 in Kansas for total agricultural revenue

#2 in Kansa s for livesto ck productio and birthpla n ce of U.S. P remium Bee f.

✓ Effective TRANSPoRTATIoN HUB with an airport acceptable for small jets, well maintained highways and short-line rail service ✓ RURAL oPPoRTUNITY ZoNe program offers student loan forgiveness program and/or state income tax exemption (five years) for eligible applicants moving to Scott County ✓ NeIGHBoRHooD ReVITALIZATIoN program entices commercial, agricultural and residential property improvements throughout county

aturing hidden jewel fe toric nal Register of His ing. d fish p for hunting an Agriculture and livestock industries create opportunistic environment for new and expanding business. Presence of oil and gas activity on the rise.

Can-Do People

✓ Active e-CommUNITY partners work with NeTWoRK KANSAS to foster entrepreneurship ✓ RURAL AND AG eCoNomY maintains strength when other business sectors weaken ✓ Full INDUSTRIAL PARK with plans to develop another soon

✓ When a community need arises, we pull together to make it happen ✓ Community Summits prioritize goal-setting of community endeavors as set forth by the citizens ✓ We strive to develop a thriving environment for faith, families, business and recreation



✓ We embrace our historic past through active tourism efforts


with us!

• Cash incentives to those that qualify for new business in Russell County • Prime industrial space near I-70 and Hwy. 281 • Host to state and national bass tournaments at Wilson Lake • Named 18 out of 35 as the best places to live for hunting (Outdoor Life magazine 2012) • Rural opportunity zone incentive tax relief for business owners to move to Russell County


Russell Kansas Get Russell Russ Co

Oil & Gas Production


Historical Garden of Eden

Russell County Economic Development and Convention and Visitors Bureau 331 E. Wichita Ave. • Russell, KS • (877) 830-3737

Stay with us … LASAdA 3721 183rd St. • Russell (785) 483-3758

RUSSELL’S INN 901 S. Fossil • Russell (785) 483-2107

FOSSILL CREEk HOTEL & SUITES 1430 S. Fossil • Russell (785) 483-4200

SET IN STONE CABIN 647 E. 1st • Lucas (785) 525-7742

dAyS INN 1225 S. Fossil • Russell (785) 483-6660

SUPER 8 1405 S. Fossil • Russell (785) 483-2488

western kansas economic development guide 201 3 Edition , volume 1 Content Director Bill McMeekin Proofreading Manager Raven Petty Content Coordinator Jessica Walker Staff Writer Kevin Litwin Contributing writers Ric Bohy, Pamela Coyle, Erin Edgemon, Kathryn Royster, Kathie Stamps, Kelly Tomkies Senior Graphic Designers Stacey Allis, Laura Gallagher, Kris Sexton, Jake Shores, Vikki Williams Graphic Designers Erica lampley, Kara Leiby, Kacey Passmore Senior Photographers Jeff Adkins, Brian McCord Staff Photographers Martin B. Cherry, Michael Conti color imaging technician alison hunter Integrated Media Manager scott voncannon Ad Production Manager Katie Middendorf Ad Traffic Assistants Krystin Lemmon, Patricia Moisan Chairman Greg Thurman President/Publisher Bob Schwartzman Executive Vice President Ray Langen Senior V.P./Sales Todd Potter Senior V.P./Operations Casey Hester Senior V.P./Client Development Jeff Heefner Senior V.P./Agribusiness Publishing kim holmberg V.P./business Development Clay Perry V.P./external communications Teree Caruthers V.P./Visual Content Mark Forester V.P./Content Operations Natasha Lorens V.P./travel publishing susan chappell V.P./Sales Rhonda Graham, Herb Harper, Jarek Swekosky Controller Chris Dudley Senior Accountant Lisa Owens Accounts Payable Coordinator Maria McFarland Accounts Receivable Coordinator Diana Guzman Sales Support project manager sara quint Sales Support coordinator christina morgan it director Daniel cantrell Web Creative Director Allison Davis Web Content Manager John Hood Web Designer II richard stevens Web Development Lead Yamel Hall Web Developer I Nels noseworthy Photography Director Jeffrey S. Otto Creative Services Director Christina Carden Creative Technology Analyst Becca ary Audience Development Director Deanna Nelson New Media Assistant Alyssa DiCicco Distribution Director Gary Smith Executive Secretary Kristy Duncan Human Resources Manager Peggy Blake Receptionist Linda Bishop

Western Kansas Economic Development Guide is published annually by Journal Communications Inc. and is distributed through the western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance. For advertising information or to direct questions or comments about the magazine, contact Journal Communications Inc. at (615) 771-0080 or by email at

For more information, contact: western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance P.O. Box 980 • Hays, KS 67601

Visit Western Kansas Economic Development Guide online at ŠCopyright 2012 Journal Communications Inc., 725 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 400, Franklin, TN 37067, (615) 771-0080. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent. Member

The Association of Magazine Media Member

Custom Content Council

western kansas

economic development guide

Workstyle Yield of Dreams


Western Kansas agriculture feeds the world

What’s the Big Idea?


Region cultivates a culture of innovation

Earth Movers


Strong agriculture, energy sectors drive manufacturing growth

Where the Power Is


Energy sector fuels new opportunities

Insight Overview 11 Almanac 12 Business Climate



Gallery 39 Transportation 48 Health 53 Education 56 Livability 60 Economic Profile




Special advertising section: Phillips County Economic Development

On the Cover One of two engine rooms at Goodman Energy Center, owned by Midwest Energy Inc., headquartered in Hays, KS. The gas-fired plant, built in 2008, generates 72 megawatts of electrical power for the region. Construction of more power generation facilities will be essential to meet growing electric demand in western Kansas. Sunflower Electric Corp. is set to break ground on a similar facility in rural Grant County early in 2013.


All or part of this magazine is printed with soy ink on recycled paper containing 10% post-consumer waste.

Please recycle this magazine

b u si n e ss c l i m a t e . c o m / w e s t e r n - ks



l i f e s t y l e | w o r k s t y l e | d i g g i n g d e e p e r | v i d eo | l i n k t o u s | a d v e r t i s e | c o n ta c t u s | s i t e m a p

western kansas economic development guide CONNECTIONS

An online resource at

digital Magazine >>

FTTP throughout the county

Lifestyle Find out what it’s like to live in western Kansas and what makes the region such a special place to be.

Rooks County, Kansas is a progressive county full of opportunity for growing a business.

Read the magazine on your computer, zoom in on articles and link to advertiser websites. site guide >> Find available commercial and industrial properties

New state-of-the-art medical facility

with a link to a searchable database.

Workstyle We put a spotlight on the innovative companies in western Kansas.

success breeds success >> Meet the people who set the pace for business innovation. Dig Deeper >> Plug into the region with

New Rooks County Regional Airport

links to local websites and resources to give you a big picture of the region. Demographics >> A wealth of demographic and statistical information puts western Kansas at

Easy access to major highways

your fingertips.

See the Video Our award-winning photographers give you a virtual tour of unique spaces, places and faces.

guide to services >> Links to a cross section of goods and services special to the community

go online

Rooks County Economic Development 115 N. Walnut Stockton, KS 67669 (785) 425-6881

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Scott City Health Complex

Small town healthcare doesn't have to feel small. We proudly offer our patients new technologies and unparalleled care.

201 Albert Ave. Scott City, KS 67871 (620) 872-5811 Scott County Hospital is a 25-bed, acute/skilled care, critical access hospital. Our hospital and medical clinic are staffed by four family physicians, one general surgeon, three mid-levels and two nurse anesthetists. Other departments include: obstetrical, surgery, radiology, out-patient therapy services, emergency medical services and home health.

104 Albert Ave. • Scott City, KS 67871 (620) 872-0040

102 Albert Ave. Scott City, KS 67871 (620) 872-2146

Dr. Joshua Gooden, OD

Caring for you and about you!

Scott City Eye Center offers the latest in vision technology. • Broad spectrum of exams assess eye health including glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy

Dr. Jonathan Brunswig, PharmD Dr. Jena Robertson Brunswig, PharmD

• Fast, friendly service • Highest quality medicine and • Co-management with world-renowned health products surgeons for Cataract, Lasik, Eyelid, Corneal • Medication reviews Transplant and other eye surgeries • Diabetes products and services The staff members at Dr. Gooden’s offices are qualified, friendly and always excited • Private-label, to welcome new clients. Come by our office over-the-counter medications any time! • counseling 10 W e s t e r n K a n s a s E c o n o m i c D e v e l o p m e n tPharmacist Guide

130 E. Rd. 140 Scott City, KS 67871 (620) 872-8996 Dr. Adam R. Winter DDS Mikayla Wiechman, RDH Stefanie Wycoff, RDH NeW PAtieNtS WelcoMe MoSt iNSuRANceS AccePteD AND FileD

Winter Family Dentistry is a family-oriented dental office serving the area of Scott City, KS. Our goal is to provide compassionate and personalized dental care to you and your family. Let us help you attain a healthy smile in a comfortable setting.


A Place of Promise, Opportunity and Prosperity Western Kansas delivers innovation and success in the heart of America Covering 54 counties, the communities within the wKREDA territory offer a business mix that features agriculture and value-added food production, dairy and cattle industries, and an energy segment that includes traditional oil and gas production as well as renewables. An integrated transportation infrastructure includes major U.S. highways and Class I rail service, and commercial air service at four airports in the region. A source for a number of its business innovations, the region’s ag sector is anchored by major dairy, cattle and crop production. Nearly 70 percent of the milk produced in Kansas comes from the 24 dairies in the wKREDA territory. The Kansas Dairy Initiative was built on the western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance’s foundation for recruiting and retaining dairies. A major advantage is the design and operation of western Kansas dairies, which minimizes fixed costs by maximizing k



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western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance P.O. Box 980 Hays, KS 67601




A major force in connecting western Kansas to the world is Fort Hays State University, a 12,800-student powerhouse that offers hundreds of degree and certificate programs. Western Kansas is in the heart of America, a region that offers open spaces, natural beauty, a hassle-free lifestyle in low-crime and traffic-friendly communities, and access to a wealth of cultural and recreational opportunities. With its culture of innovation, diverse economy, business-friendly environment and superior quality of life, western Kansas brings together all the ingredients as the ideal place to live, work and invest. For more on western Kansas, contact:






cows and production per cow. The value-added agriculture sector and the energy industry help support specialized manufacturing operations, many of which export their products around the world. In addition to core strengths in oil and natural gas production, western Kansas’ agricultural heritage is spawning innovation in bio-related fuel sources. Seven ethanol plants operate in the region, and it is also a major wind energy producer. The region has cultivated a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, proving that a nurturing environment, technological capabilities and desirable quality of life attributes can put small communities on a level playing field with larger communities. The region offers resources to promote new business growth including the Rural Opportunity Zone program, the Startup Kansas funding program administered through NetWork Kansas and the Entrepreneurship (E-) Communities loan fund program.

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Rebounding Drills A company in Gove County has one word for you – plastics. Formation Plastics Inc. in Quinter specializes in custom thermoforming, which involves heating, forming and cutting plastic sheets into usable products. The company of 24 employees has produced a number of trademarked items including the Zipedo Rebounder that serves as a basketball coaching aide for rebounding drills. Other innovations include the PR Pant Sliding Vault Box, which allows pole vaulters of all skill levels to improve their approach, and Wheel Desk, which hooks over a steering wheel to make a clip board work surface for paperwork. Formation Plastics also manufactures Pure Pond, which is a submersible pond filter system.

Fuller Brush and Joe DiMaggio Rev. Billy Graham was once a salesman for Fuller Brush Co., as were television producer and host Dick Clark, baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio and actor Dennis Quaid. The company, based in Great Bend, has been helping the nation stay clean and groomed since 1906 when Alfred C. Fuller – a 21-year-old immigrant from Nova Scotia, Canada – began making brushes on a bench in the basement of his sister’s house. He talked to housewives and asked them what they needed, and built brushes based on their feedback. Today the company produces more than 2,000 cleaning and personal care products from its 12-acre manufacturing operation near Great Bend in Barton County. Go to for more information.

Wired for Business Superior Essex opened a facility in 1974 in Hoisington in Barton County to manufacture copper cable and wiring used in a variety of industries, and today the company employs more than 250 people. The Atlanta-based company is considered the world’s largest producer of magnet wire – or winding wire – which is an insulated copper or aluminum conductor found in industrial motors, transformers, automotive applications, electrical coils and appliances. In 2011 the Kansas Department of Labor presented Superior Essex in Hoisington with a Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program Award for maintaining a model safety and health management system that protects employees from job-site hazards. The Hoisington facility is one of the largest plants to have received the SHARP award. More information on the company is available at


Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

Sharp Idea JW Smith & Sons is a longtime custom knife maker that began operations several generations ago in Texas, but relocated to Oberlin in Decatur County in 2011. The Smiths have enjoyed outdoor adventure for as long as the family has been around, and their hunting expeditions were a key reason why they became interested in manufacturing custom-made knives. The company today does all the measuring, hand grinding and sanding for every knife order for every customer, plus their craftsmen precisioncarve whatever a customer wants featured on the knife handle. Some of the specialty items they produce include daggers, pearl-handled knives, bowie knives and railroad spike knives, as well as sheaths and carrying cases. Find out more at

Alternative to Olive Oil It started as a venture to produce sunflower oil as an alternative to diesel fuel, but entrepreneur Wes Bainter soon realized that his product had better legs as a healthy alternative to other types of cooking oil. So in 2005, the inventor established Bainter Sunflower Oil LLC, and the company is now headquartered in Hoxie in Sheridan County. Its operations consist of crushing, processing, filtering and bottling sunflower seeds into an all-natural sunflower oil. The company notes while olive oil has been the choice of health-conscious people for many years, new evidence is emerging about the health benefits of sunflower oil. Bainter Sunflower Oil is sold in stores in 15 states. For more information, see

Zeolite Is All Right A Phillips County company could be playing a role in softening your water. Mineral-Right Inc. is a manufacturing business that was established in Phillipsburg in 1986 and today produces zeolite, the key component used for both residential and business water softening units. Mineral-Right is the only company in the United States that manufactures the artificially produced crystal zeolite. In addition, an ancillary business called Odor-Z-Way was created by Phillipsburg entrepreneur Mike James and is independent of Mineral-Right, but James remanufactures and utilizes zeolite for his Odor-Z-Way products. As a result, Odor-Z-Way now comes in a package and is sold nationally to be used mainly as a pet odor eliminator. More on the companies can be found at and

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Dive into the details, demographics and information

Learn how leading-edge businesses are breaking new ground

Find out who the major players are

What makes the state a great place to live, raise a family and have fun

Key industry segments that drive the economy

Stay connected with the latest developments


Pinpointing the deals and developments that shape the economy

Power Source A leading designer and manufacturer of power wheelchairs and bariatric products is based in western Kansas. Wheelchairs of Kansas’ 58,000-square-foot manufacturing complex in Ellis turns out a variety of bariatric products used in health care including manual and power wheelchairs, powered beds and other mobility aids. The company specializes in the research, design and development of such products, with the majority of its equipment manufactured in the United States. The company started with four employees and development of a customized manual wheelchair, and has since developed 16 more mobility products. It is now the largest employer in Ellis. All of the company’s products meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines and the company has earned ISO certification. For more information, see

after a fashion Just three years ago, Nicole Campos was selling purses, jewelry and accessories from her living room in Scott City. Today, along with her husband, Mark, Campos has grown her retail chain Bling! to locations in Scott City, Garden City, Manhattan, Hays and Salina, as well as an online store ( that sell apparel, jewelry, purses, shoes and gift items. From what was a single-person operation, the business has grown to nearly 50 employees. Nicole Campos, a Scott City native, was named a recipient of the Kansas Department of Commerce Women-Owned Business Award (retail division) in 2012.

High in Fiber A Hays-based telecommunications company is making a lot of connections in northwest Kansas, contributing heavily to a communications infrastructure and helping to attract new jobs and investment. Nex-Tech, a subsidiary of Rural Telephone, provides telephone, video and Internet service to 76 communities and surrounding rural areas in central and western Kansas, as well as voice, wireless, video and data services for business, local and wide area networks, security systems and video production. The company’s Fiber To The Premise project, launched in 2010, will bring high-speed broadband to 23,000 households and businesses, as well as 335 anchor institutions in 21 communities and 26 rural areas covering 11 counties in northwest Kansas. After this project is complete, which is expected in 2013, more than 39,000 households and businesses in 76 communities in 17 counties will have high-speed broadband within the more than 9,300 square miles Nex-Tech’s territory covers. The 378-employee company was awarded the Governor’s Award of Excellence, the state’s highest achievement for business, at the annual Kansas Cavalry Encampment at Kansas State University in June 2012. For more on the company, go to

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Business Climate

The New Frontier Western Kansas breeds innovation in agriculture, energy, entrepreneurship Story by Erin Edgemon • Photography by Jeff Adkins


overing 54 counties, western Kansas offers a diverse and innovative business climate that includes agriculture and value-added food production, dairy and cattle industries, and an energy segment that has branched beyond traditional oil and gas production to renewables. In addition, the region has leveraged its assets including Fort Hays State University, a network of community colleges, an integrated transportation network and a host of incentive programs to stimulate business investment and entrepreneurial growth. Long recognized as the bread basket of the world, Kansas puts food on the table across the globe. More than 50 percent of the economy in western Kansas is tied to agriculture, but other industry sectors are growing due to the region’s quality of life, infrastructure and incentives for transplants and entrepreneurs.

“Western Kansas “is the newest ‘buzz’ location in the nation for entrepreneurial development,” says Jeff Hofaker, economic development director for Phillips County in north central Kansas. The Ideal Location Agricultural equipment maker Shelbourne Reynolds maintains its North American headquarters in Colby in Thomas County. The company manufactures a variety of machinery used for harvesting crops such as wheat, barley, oats and flax, as well as equipment used for ground care and in the care and feeding of livestock. Daniel Morris, the company’s general manager, says western Kansas is the ideal location because it’s the agricultural center of the country. The region’s transportation network makes it easy to receive and then distribute the heavy machinery across the country.

Kansas Rural Opportunity Zone Program

50 Number of counties eligible, most of them in western Kansas

500 Number of applications received for the program since July 2011

35 Number of states where applications were sent from

$15K Available for student loan repayments; eligible out-of-state ROZ participants can also receive up to five years of income tax waivers b u si n e ss c l i m a t e . c o m / w e s t e r n - ks


Green for Green Initiatives A loan program from Midwest Energy in Hays is helping to promote small business growth and energy savings in western Kansas. The member-owned utility received a $1 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Loan and Grant (REDLG) Program that will allow for expansion of its award-winning How$mart® Program. The program has invested more than $4.4 million to help more than 750 residential and business customers make energy-saving improvements to their homes or businesses.

Interstate 70, a major east-west artery, runs through Colby and I-83 runs north-south from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Denver International Airport is three hours away from much of western Kansas. “You can get a direct flight from Denver to England,” Morris says, a convenience making it easier to travel to the Shelbourne Reynolds’ headquarters in Great Britain. Rural Kansas also is home to several regional airports and the Cimarron Valley Railroad. Gail Boller says when he decided to open his production shop in rural Norton, skeptics told him it would never work, that he needed to be located in a larger urban area like Wichita or Kansas City. Some 30 years later, he is still proving them wrong. Boller opened Natoma Corp. in 1982 largely for the quality of life the area offered his family and company employees. Rural Kansas has a lower cost of living and less employee turnover than in urban areas, Boller says. But the precision parts his shop’s machinists make for aviation, aerospace and medical fields can be shipped within a day to 90 percent of Natoma’s clients, he says.


Incentives for New Business The region has created an environment for entrepreneurial and business growth through incentives and initiatives. Startup Kansas, administered through NetWork Kansas, provides funding for startups and expansions of existing businesses in rural Kansas communities in the form of matching grants and unsecured loans. The Entrepreneurship (E-) Communities Partnership loan fund program gives western Kansas communities tools to promote small business growth and investment. Also, individual counties have local business incentives that include free or discounted land for development, zero- or low-interest loan programs, and grants. Those programs work uniquely and in conjunction with other regional or state programs. Among the most proactive and involved programs has been the Entrepreneurial Business and Enhancement program provided in Phillips County, which has given more than $853,000 in grants to new or established entrepreneurial businesses over the last five years. Grants are

Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

funded through a county sales tax. In that that time span, sales tax collections in Phillips County have doubled, 86 new jobs were created and 69 jobs were retained. “The atmosphere in western Kansas is very entrepreneuristic and growing,” Hofaker says. A major challenge for many employers in western Kansas is finding workers to fill positions. The Kansas Department of Commerce is taking steps to bring educated individuals and entrepreneurs to western Kansas through efforts such as the Rural Opportunity Zone (ROZ) program. The ROZ includes 50 Kansas counties, many of them in western Kansas. The counties can offer participants income tax waivers for up to five years and/or student loan repayments up to $15,000. Since July 2011, nearly 500 applications from 35 states have been received for program incentives and 75 percent should be approved, says Christopher Harris, ROZ program director for the Department of Commerce. “Our goal is to help them establish roots in the community with the goal of having them stay in the community beyond the five years,” Harris says.

Left: Employees make specialized parts for the aviation, aerospace and medical fields at Natoma Corp. in Norton. Above: Employees inspect agricultural equipment at Shelbourne Reynolds’ facility in Colby, where the company has its North American headquarters.

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Pratt provides significant hunting opportunities for deer, waterfowl and upland game bird hunting.

Our Future Economy

Agriculture, energy and industry come together to make Pratt a community of opportunities.

Progressive Higher Education

Pratt Community College provides business and industry training, as well as general and technical education.

Excellence in Education

We have two school districts offering innovative education as well as arts and athletics programs to prepare our youth for the 21st century.

Sports/Recreation Facilities

Sports complex and a new 44,000-square-foot fitness facility.

Thriving Downtown

Pratt offers a robust mix of unique shops, eateries and professional offices in the downtown area.

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Education Center

This showcase for outdoor Kansas houses numerous displays, dioramas, aquariums and exhibits.

Where Agriculture Pratt Area Economic Development Corporation

Great Bend 45 mi.

Hutchinson 60 mi.

Lemon Park

Pratt has 19 parks comprising approximately 270 acres of “green space.”

Union Pacific Railroad

Wichita 70 mi.

Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad

Pratt Pratt Regional Airport

Our C-II GA airport boasts a 5,500-foot concrete runway and is also home to one of our industrial parks.

Regional Medical Center

Pratt Regional Medical Center is a progressive medical center providing the region with outstanding patient care.

Meets Industry (888) 886-1164 •

Feed the World Agriculture is a global business in western Kansas

Cattle at the milk processing plant at one of McCarty Family Farms’ dairy operations in Rexford.


Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

Top Five Commodities (2011 receipts) • 1. Cattle and calves: $7.6 billion • 2. Corn: $2.6 billion • 3. Wheat: $1.9 billion • 4. Soybeans: $1.3 billion • 5. Sorghum grain: $668 million • All commodities: $15.9 billion

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Clockwise from top left: Employees milk cows using state-of-the-art technology at a McCarty Family Farms dairy operation in Rexford; Dr. Craig Smith, an assistant professor of agriculture at Fort Hays State University, works on agriculture computing software with a student; An evaporator removes moisture from the milk at a McCarty Family Farms dairy; Tom McCarty leads students through a new milk processing plant in Rexford.


Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

Story by Kathie Stamps Photography by Jeff Adkins


n anchor of the western Kansas economy and a source for a number of its business innovations is its robust agriculture and value-added food industry, which includes major dairy, cattle and crop production including wheat, corn, soybeans and sorghum grain. Kansas ranked third nationally with 6.1 million cattle on ranches and in feed yards, and Kansas cattle generated $7.64 billion in cash receipts in 2011. “It’s safe to say we’re No. 1 or 2 in sorghum or wheat within a given year and No. 2 or 3 in cattle, our key agriculture resources,” says John Greathouse, chairman of the department of agriculture at Fort Hays State University. Major Food Production Western Kansas has a number of major meat production operations

including Tyson in Garden City and National Beef in Liberal. About 70 percent of the milk produced in the state comes from two dozen dairies in the western third. One of the largest operations is McCarty Family Farms, which milks 7,000 cows daily at its four dairies. Pennsylvanians turned Kansans, the McCartys – Tom, Judy and their four sons – moved to Rexford in Thomas County in the late 1990s. “Northeast Pennsylvania was by no means conducive to larger scale dairies,” Tom McCarty says. “And if you can’t create a good level of efficiency, you’re losing.” The McCarty family built a processing plant in 2011 for the ultimate win-win scenario of production and sustainability. It’s the only plant of its kind in North America. Evaporated water from the processing facility is used on b u si n e ss c l i m a t e . c o m / w e s t e r n - ks


The Dale Family Farms in Comanche County, owned by husband-and-wife team Kurt and Andi Dale, sells grass-fed beef and pork products.

Top Agricultural Exports (2010 values) 1. Wheat and wheat products: $1.1 billion (top among all states) 2. Soybean and products: $916 million 3. Feed grains and products: $855 million 4. Live animals and meat: $675 million 5. Feed and fodders: $653 million Total agriculture exports: $4.9 billion Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture


the farm for cows and crops. The pasteurized condensed cream and skim milk are shipped to Dannon County in Fort Worth, Texas, to be made into yogurt, under a multiyear contract. Influence of Ag Industry in Western Kansas The importance of the valueadded agriculture industry in western Kansas extends to major employers connected to the industry, such as CrustBuster/ Speed King, a farm machinery manufacturer in Dodge City, and Plains Cotton Corp., which operates a 330,000-square-foot storage warehouse in Liberal. Education plays a role in the industry, too. Agriculture has been a significant part of Fort

Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

Hays State University since its founding in 1902. In the past three years student enrollment has increased as students pursue a bachelor of science degree in one of five disciplines, one of which is agricultural business. Greathouse says the business emphasis is on profit and loss, as well as science and technology. “We have advanced technology available to us to enhance production efficiencies within our agriculture entities,” he says. “[We are] not only looking at farming and ranching but the application of technology to improve the end product to consumers.” Business coursework is integrated within FHSU’s agriculture curricula. “It’s critical we do that,” Greathouse says.

Sorghum Opportunity nu Life market taps increasing demand for gluten-free products

Cattle are moved from one pasture to another almost daily at Dale Family Farms. The Dale Family has farmed and ranched in Comanche County for more than 100 years.

Agriculture has historically been known as a wholesale business. That’s changing, as farmers and ranchers adapt to a retail model, says Jeff Hofaker, director of Phillips County Economic Development. “It’s not just a bulk product, but more of a niche retail business,” he says. Kurt and Andi Dale, owners of Dale Family Farms, have undergone the bulk-to-niche paradigm shift in the past eight years. “He is not a cattleman, he’s a grass farmer,” Andi Dale says of her husband, whose family has farmed for more than a century in Comanche County. The Dales raise and sell grass-fed beef and pork, and pastured poultry: freerange chickens and turkeys. The couple is thinking of adding goats

and rabbits to their offerings. “For years we had the mindset that we had to get bigger to survive,” she says. The Dales took a different approach and instead of getting bigger, they decided to “get smarter and look for leastcost solutions.” By switching to direct selling, the Dales became profit-oriented instead of production-driven. Their intent is to grow operations on a cash basis instead of incurring debt. Merging business skills with a healthy respect for Mother Nature will allow agriculture to continue to be the backbone of the western Kansas economy. “We must take care of the resources we have – earth and pastures – or we won’t be able to raise anything,” Andi Dale says.

Agriculture is a mainstay of the western Kansas economy, and the region has a long legacy of agricultural innovation. One example can be found in Scott City, where Nu Life Market is filling an in-demand niche in supplying products free of gluten, peanuts and dairy to customers with special dietary needs. The company uses gluten-free whole-health sorghum grains grown by farmers in the region that it uses to make a variety of products, including gluten-free flour, brans and grains. It also sells a whipped roasted sunflower kernel spread and coconut flour. One in 133 people in the United States suffers from celiac disease, an auto-immune disorder that affects digestion. People who have celiac disease require diets free from gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye used in a majority of food. Sorghum is a gluten-free alternative. Nu Life Market was started in 2012 by Earl Roemer, a sorghum grower in Scott City, who sees enormous upside for sorghum in the increasing demand for glutenfree products. The global market for glutenfree products is expected to reach $4.3 billion by 2017. Sales for gluten-free products have grown by 25 percent each year since 2001, according to trade publication Packaged Facts. Kansas is one of the top sorghum-producing states, and some 30 million bushels are grown in a 50-mile radius around the Nu Life Market mill. All of Nu Life Market’s products are quality tested and allergen tested, and the company’s Farm to Family safety program includes extensive monitoring and precautions to prevent cross contamination of gluten containing grains. b u si n e ss c l i m a t e . c o m / w e s t e r n - ks



Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

Novel Concepts Western Kansas cultivates entrepreneurs, innovative companies

Story by Pamela Coyle Photography by Jeff Adkins


ind the common denominator: high-end furniture designer, new odor and stain remover, kit plane industry leader, organic flour producer. These thriving businesses share two traits. Entrepreneurs in western Kansas started them and the visionaries grow the businesses on native soil. Entrepreneurship drives a diverse economy that includes value-added agriculture, energy

production, renewables and a crosssection of specialty manufacturing. Technology shrinks distances and gives entrepreneurs and innovators – especially those in rural Kansas – easier access to mentors, expertise and financing. Western Kansas Is NetWorked NetWork Kansas runs Entrepreneurship (E-) Community Partnership, a program that allows a town, a cluster of towns or a

Randy Schlitter, president of RANS Designs, at the company’s Hays operation.

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county to raise seed money for local entrepreneurs and retain local control of spending and outreach. Of the 30 program participants statewide, 13 are in western Kansas. Odor-Z-Way in Phillipsburg is one beneficiary. President Mike James wanted to commercialize a byproduct from a customer in the family’s trucking business. The material, a synthetic crystal, absorbs odors and stains, a product with far-reaching applications. Phillips County Economic Developoment matched the company with resources to write a business plan, provided seed money and helped with equipment purchase and industry


connections at trade shows. Business doubled between 2008 and 2009 and again the next year. In 2010, after five years in business, Odor-Z-Way added new products in the housewares, pet, hardware, lawn and garden, and automotive sectors and picked up related products as a local distributor. “Now people want to talk to us,” James says. The company manufactures its own product, and is creating a fulfillment center in Phillipsburg. “I look for our growth to continue,” James says. “We are out to make a living, employ some people and do the right thing.”

Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

Right Resources, Right Time By Erik Pedersen’s account, many western Kansas communities are doing the right thing. “The communities we work with are the ones doing the heavy lifting,” says Pedersen, who directs the (E-) Community Partnership program. “They really have a shared vision that entrepreneurship is a true way to grow their own economies.” With more than 500 city, county and regional partners, NetWork Kansas has created a one-stop website and staffed phone line to assist entrepreneurs. “We get them connected to the right resources at the right time,” Pedersen says.

RANS Designs in Hays designs and makes recumbent bicycles, kit airplanes and other aircraft.

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Vintage Business Kansas is home to more than 30 licensed wineries, including the Diamond S Vineyard & Winery in western Kansas. Owned by husbandand-wife team Glenn and Elsa Schmidtberger, Diamond S opened in Russell in 2009. The winery offers nearly three dozen wines, with red and white varieties including concord, French, seyval blanc and cabernet. In addition, a selection of fruity wines is available in flavors such as blueberry, strawberry, apple strawberry and peach. Visitors can also enjoy a tasting room that features nearly 20 wines. The Schmidtbergers also operate vineyards in the area that produce nearly 38,000 pounds of grapes. Learn more at diamondsvineyard

Beyond loans, matching grants and technical help, e-communities also sew early seeds with entrepreneurship curriculum as early as middle school. Entrepreneurship fairs and business plan competitions get students excited about the potential to go out on their own. No Place Like Home Western Kansas grows go-getters. Liberal, a community of fewer than 25,000 near the Oklahoma border, is home to High Plains Pizza, one of the leading U.S. Pizza Hut franchises. Wichita County, near the Colorado line, hosts Heartland Mill Inc., a grower-owned business that produces flour from organically grown wheat plus other organic grains and related products.


Randy Schlitter, president of RANS Designs in Hays, started with recumbent bicycles and moved into single-seat kit airplanes, then two-seaters and more sophisticated aircraft. “People misunderstand this state,” he says. “I don’t think anyone on the planet has not been touched by Kansas. We have planes all over the world that have touched people’s lives.” Chuck Comeau has been all over the world. Yet all of his businesses, including Dessin Fournir Cos., his signature furniture design and manufacturing company, and C.S. Post & Co., a nationally recognized retail concept store and website, are based within miles of where he grew up in Plainville. Comeau and his team also launched Liberty Group Inc.,

Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

a downtown development corporation that’s brought new life to Hays, and Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing Co., a brew pub with national and international awards. Small boutique hotels are next. “There is no place like home,” Comeau says. “I get the luxury and pleasure of being able to see one end of the world to the next. But the people here are so genuine, so real and so hardworking, you can do something you love and with people that you care about. To me it is a no-brainer.”

Clockwise from top left: Diamond S Vineyard & Winery in Russell; Dessin Fournir Cos. designs and makes high-end furnishings; Recumbent bicycle frames are finished and painted at RANS Designs.

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Earth Movers Agriculture, energy sectors drive manufacturing growth

Story by Ric Bohy • Photography by Jeff Adkins


t might seem incongruous when Don Sweeney links slowness to productivity in describing the manufacturing environment and lifestyle of western Kansas. But his explanation is simple. “It’s a slower pace of life than the large urban areas,” he says. “With a slower pace they get more done here, because they’re more dedicated to what they’re doing.” As partnership manager with the Mid America Manufacturing Technology Center in Great Bend, Sweeney works with new and existing companies and helps manufacturers to improve performance and enhance profitability through such processes as LEAN Enterprise, product development and testing, quality management/ISO/AS and Six Sigma principles. Ag, Energy Drive Manufacturing Two main drivers for manufacturing in western Kansas – agriculture and, more recently, a boom in oil exploration and natural gas drilling – have CrustBuster/Speed King makes agricultural equipment at its operations in Dodge City.


Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

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Above: CrustBuster/Speed King makes a range of products, including planting machinery and handling equipment for grains, seed and dry fertilizer. Opposite page: Agriculture is a mainstay of the western Kansas economy and a number of manufacturers in the region produce equipment to support it; Cotton harvesting equipment is ready for delivery at CrustBuster/Speed King’s Dodge City facility.


Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

fueled growth in existing industries, Sweeney says. MAMTC helps in that effort by offering training assistance and other services that ensure a pool of highly skilled labor. As Donald Hornung describes it, a smaller native labor pool was the natural result of the displacement of small farms by major agricultural operations. Hornung is president and CEO of CrustBuster/Speed King Inc., started more than 50 years ago by

his father to manufacture unique tillage tools and grain drills to work larger fields. Today, the company manufactures a range of products, from planting machinery to handling equipment for grain, seed and dry fertilizer. “As the farms got bigger, the younger farm-raised kids sought jobs elsewhere,” he says. But a more recent influx of labor from out of state – “good, hard workers” – gives companies a supply of workers who can be

trained to meet employer needs, and often with state subsidies to help pay for the training, he says. The semi-arid climate also benefits manufacturers. “We can store a lot more materials outside without having rust problems as in the Corn Belt or on the coast,” Hornung says. Hornung’s company has a combined 150,000 square feet of manufacturing space in two plants, the largest in iconic Dodge City. Besides renowned pheasant

Mid America Manufacturing Center The Mid America Manufacturing Center (MAMTC) provides measurable productivity and profitability gains to manufacturers throughout Kansas. MAMTC’s 20/20 vision program focuses on 20 percent growth and 20 percent cost reductions to keep manufacturing companies competitive. Key business areas include: lean enterprise, quality management/

ISO, Six Sigma, Innovation Engineering growth strategies, human resources, plant layout, leadership development, marketing, technology/automation, environmental compliance and supply chain management. MAMTC offices are located throughout the state, including Great Bend in western Kansas. For more information, visit

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Left: A steel tank is loaded onto a truck at Palmer Manufacturing & Tank in Garden City, which also makes fiberglass tanks. Right: Lasers are used to cut through heavy materials on the manufacturing floor at the CrustBuster/Speed King plant in Dodge City.

and deer hunting, and other outdoor activities, the Western heritage is a calling card, he says. “Dodge City is known for Boot Hill and the Santa Fe Trail, and being a cow town. We celebrate every year with Dodge City Days. If you enjoy the outdoors, and especially if you enjoy horses and roping and things like that, you’ll enjoy Dodge City,” he says. Manufacturing Expansion Wide open spaces offer room for expansion and other advantages, says Brad Skolout, who in 2000 founded Roadrunner Manufacturing in Levant in Thomas County to build treeplanting rigs and has since expanded to custom-order trailers


and a range of agricultural equipment now used in 20 states. “Our facility is out in the country so we don’t have a city to deal with, and the county and state like our products and encourage us to be here,” he says. Pacing growth in the oil fields has allowed for expansion at a number of western Kansas manufacturers. In Rush County, KBK Industries, a manufacturer of fiberglass tanks for the oil field and farming industries, recently expanded from 40,000 to 56,000 square feet of production and office space on 18 acres. Palmer Manufacturing & Tank in Garden City makes both fiberglass and steel tanks for the energy segment in more than

Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

50,000 square feet of production space. And Hess Services Inc. in Hays, which began manufacturing oil-field products in 1989, has since diversified with repair and maintenance services in 75,000 square feet of space on a 17-acre site. Not all western Kansas manufacturing is focused on ag and energy, and it’s not all homegrown. An example: The multinational Columbian Chemicals Co. – a leading producer of carbon black additives – operates a facility in Ulysses in Grant County. Hornung points out another factor that makes western Kansas attractive to homegrown and outside manufacturers. “We’re a right-to-work state,” he says. “We enjoy freedom.”


A windmill is silhouetted by the colorful clouds at sunset near the city of Protection. Photo by Jeff Adkins

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The Long Branch Saloon at the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City. The museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of Dodge City and the Old West. Dodge City was founded in 1872 and quickly became the world’s largest shipping point for Longhorn cattle. Photo by Jeff Adkins


Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

The Red River Commodities plant in Colby processes specialty crops such as sunflower kernels. Photo by Jeff Adkins

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Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area comprises 19,857 acres in Great Bend.


Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

The Norton County Courthouse in downtown Norton. Photo by Jeff Adkins

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Where the Power Is Oil, gas, wind, biofuels make western Kansas an energy leader

Story by Kathryn Royster Photography by Jeff Adkins


n western Kansas, renewable energy is poised for long-term growth as both biofuels and wind power expand.

Ag and Biofuels: An Ideal Mix The region’s many farms literally feed biofuels growth by providing a plentiful supply of raw materials. As of June 2011, nine biofuels plants were producing a combined 360 million gallons of fuel per year, with two more plants under construction. One of these is E Caruso LLC’s New Goodland Energy Center, which will produce 20 million gallons of ethanol per year and 200,000 tons of livestock feed distillers grains from 16 million bushels of locally sourced corn. The project developers hope to capitalize on the geographic advantages of Sherman County’s roads, water resources, grain production and access to emerging ethanol markets. Another biofuels investment is Abengoa Bioenergy’s $450 million cellulosic fuel plant in Hugoton. The facility will convert 300,000 tons of crop residues into 25 million gallons of ethanol and 25 megawatts of renewable power annually. “We chose Hugoton because we have a long, successful relationship with western Kansas,

and it’s an ideal location from a feedstock standpoint,” says Chris Standlee, Abengoa’s executive vice president of U.S. holdings. Abengoa was drawn by plentiful stocks of corn stover, wheat straw, prairie grasses and other crop residues. Because the fuel plant is one of the first of its kind in the world, part of its function will be to test these various feedstocks to determine which have the greatest commercial viability. Standlee says the project has benefited from the assistance of local farmers, who have helped Abengoa develop environmentally responsible sourcing practices. The company will be able to source its feedstock requirement of 1,100 tons per day while consuming less than 15 percent of available residues. “Kansas is a very business-friendly state. We’ve been able to work with regulatory agencies, the work ethic is great and there are lots of capable employees. We’d have no qualms about recommending it to other companies,” Standlee says. major oil and gas producer Kansas is also a top oil and natural gas producing state, and western Kansas plays a major role in that.

Right: Giant wind turbines rise up from sorghum fields at the Kansas City Power & Light Spearville Wind Energy Facility, which covers 5,000 acres. Established in 2006, the wind farm comprises 67 wind turbines that produce enough energy to power 33,000 homes.


Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

Operating Western Kansas Wind Farms

Meridian Way Wind Farm Cloud County, 204 MW Smoky Hills Wind Farm Lincoln/Ellsworth Counties, 250 MW Central Plains Wind Farm Wichita County, 99 MW

Gray County Wind Farm Gray County, 112 MW

Flat Ridge Wind Farm Barber County, 100 MW

Spearville Wind Energy Facility Greensburg Wind Project, Kiowa County, 12.5 MW Ford County, 148 MW Source: Kansas Energy Information Network

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Sunflower Electric Plans to Expand Holcomb Plant Sunflower Electric Power Corp. plans to expand its coal-fired power plant just outside Holcomb. The plant generates 362 megawatts of power annually; the expansion is projected to generate 895 megawatts and create 88 new full-time jobs. Sunflower will exercise joint ownership of the expansion with Colorado-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc., and Texasbased Golden Spread Electric Cooperative Inc. With 200 megawatts allocated for Sunflower’s use, the cooperative has signed distribution agreements with Mid-Kansas Electric Company LLC, Midwest Energy Inc., and the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency.

Large tanks are constructed at the New Goodland Energy Center in Goodland. The facility will produce 20 million gallons of renewable, clean-burning ethanol annually, and 200,000 tons of livestock feed distillers grains from 16 million bushels of locally sourced corn.

Western Kansas Biofuels PlantsAll plants operational unless otherwise noted; MGY=millions of gallons per year MGY Product Location Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas

30 Cellulosic, permit pendingHugoton

Conestoga/Arkalon Ethanol

110 EthanolLiberal

Conestoga/Bonanza Bioenergy

73.5 EthanolGarden City

E Caruso LLC

20 Ethanol, under constructionGoodland

Emergent Green Energy Inc.


E.S.E. Alcohol Inc.


2 EthanolLeoti

Prairie Horizon Agri-Energy LLC

40 Ethanol


Pratt Energy LLC

60 Ethanol, idle

Pratt County

Reeve Agri-Energy

12 EthanolGarden City

U.S. Energy Partners

55 Ethanol

Western Plains Energy

45 EthanolOakley

Source: Kansas Energy Information Network (June 2011)



Western Kansas Economic Development Guide


more at

Several western Kansas counties are among the state’s leading oil producers. Ellis County led all Kansas counties in oil production in 2011, the last full year for which statistics are available, according to the Kansas Geological Survey. Two western Kansas counties Stevens and Grant - were the top counties for natural gas production in the state. The region is in the heart of the Mississippian Lime Play (MLP), a porous limestone formation that was considered tapped out by vertical drilling decades ago. But new hydraulic fracturing technology, in combination with horizontal drilling, has the potential to pump up oil and natural gas activity in the region. Economic development leaders say the potential economic benefits could be significant, resulting thousands of jobs and industry activity in the MLP region for the next 20 to 30 years.

Meetings R’ Us

A number of energy companies have already invested millions of dollars in exploration. Prairie Winds Produce Power Energy producers are also taking advantage of the region’s plentiful wind. Western Kansas currently has nine wind farms producing a total of 926 megawatts per year, and eight more are under construction. In Ford County alone (home to Dodge City, the nation’s windiest city), two Spearville wind farms produce a combined 148 megawatts. Two additional wind farms, Spearville 3 and Ironwood, will produce another 169 megawatts when complete. JoAnn Knight, Dodge City/Ford County Economic Development Corp. executive director, says wind energy producers choose Ford County partly for its transmission capacity. Spearville already has a readily accessible substation, and transmission company ITC

Great Plains is working on two additional lines to handle future load. The new lines will transmit power to Nebraska and Wichita and give Ford County the capacity to handle 4,500 wind turbines. Knight is not surprised by the region’s support for wind energy producers. She says the wind farms help to diversify the local economy, providing steady non-agricultural jobs and lease income to balance out fluctuations in crop prices. And funding for school construction and other important quality-of-life projects comes from payments in lieu of taxes. “The biggest disagreement we see is farmers competing over who gets the wind farm on their land,” Knight says. “Economically it’s good, environmentally it’s good, and it helps the community to fulfill its potential. So everyone’s just been tremendously accepting of it all around.”

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Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

Driving Force Western Kansas builds strong transportation system

Story by Kevin Litwin • Photography by Jeff Adkins


he economic downturn didn’t hit western Kansas as much as the rest of the country, and one reason was the ability to move products and people in an efficient way. The highway and rail systems provide high accessibility to markets and are among the region’s major attributes, while regional airports in Dodge City, Garden City, Hays and Liberal offer commercial service used by thousands of travelers each year. The major roadway in western Kansas is Interstate 70, which runs east to west through basically the middle of the region. Other key thoroughfares include U.S. Highways 24, 36, 54 and 56 that all run east to west, and U.S. Highways 83, 183, 281 and 283 that run north to south. Air of Distinction One of the four regional airports that serves western Kansas is Garden City Regional Airport, which was an Army air base in the 1940s and then deeded to Garden City when World War II ended. The city transformed it into a public airport, and Garden City Regional began offering commercial air service in 1967. The airport offers two round trips daily to DallasFort Worth International, a major American Airlines Interstate 70, a major east-west route, runs through western Kansas.

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Regional Airports • Dodge City Regional Airport is mostly used for general aviation and also offers commercial service to Denver via Great Lakes Airlines. • Garden City Regional Airport accommodates general aviation and corporate aircraft, plus offers two round trips daily to Dallas-Fort Worth on American Eagle. • Hays Regional Airport has two runways for general aviation and also has three to four daily flights to Denver via Great Lakes Airlines. • Liberal Mid-America Regional Airport is utilized mostly for general aviation and corporate jets, plus flies commercial to Dodge City and Denver via Great Lakes Airlines.


Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

Top left: Key Lime Air is a contractor for UPS that brings cargo in and out of Garden City Regional Airport. Bottom left: American Eagle offers daily non-stop flights from Dallas to Garden City Regional Airport. Above: A train moves cargo between Dodge City and Hugoton on the Cimarron Valley Railroad. The railroad’s 245 miles of track move products for a range of agricultural and industrial customers.

hub, through American Eagle. General aviation and corporate business jets utilize the airport as well, says Rachelle Powell, director of aviation at Garden City Regional Airport. “Plus we are located near the middle of the United States, so a lot of corporate jets f lying across the country stop at our airport because we are an ideal fuel stop,” she says. Garden City Regional also has an industrial park on site that spans 200 acres. The airport increased development efforts for the park in 2012, Powell says, and is pursuing aviation-related companies along with the warehouse industry and small manufacturing. Tracking Success Class I rail lines also run throughout western Kansas to serve the region. A handful of short lines also operate in the region, including Satanta-based Cimarron Valley Railroad, whose 245 miles of track move products for a range of agricultural and industrial customers.

“We haul three days a week and about 10,000 carloads per year, running specifically from Dodge City to Boise City, Okla., and from Satanta to Springfield, Colo.,” says Henry Hale, manager of Cimarron Valley Railroad. “We’ve done a lot of track upgrades in recent years and haul agricultural commodities such as wheat, corn, milo, feed and fertilizer along with industrial products such as sand, cement, poles and pipe.” One of CVR’s main customers is Columbian Chemicals, which is among the world’s largest producers and marketers of carbon black – a substance used in rubber manufacturing and the pigmentation of inks and plastics. “Cimarron Valley began operating in February 1996 and today we have two locomotives, five rail cars and more than 20 employees,” Hale says. “Our line runs through one of the most naturally beautiful parts of western Kansas, which also happens to be the largest corn and second-largest wheat producing area in the state.”

Cimarron Valley Railroad Cimarron Valley Railroad began in 1996 after purchasing Burlington North Santa Fe Railroad. CVR operates approximately 245 miles of track in western Kansas, northwest Oklahoma and southeastern Colorado. The railroad company, which primarily hauls agricultural and industrial products, delivers more than 10,000 carloads of products each year.

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Hays Medical Center was recognized for its gastroenterology and geriatrics care services by U.S. News & World Report.

To Your Health Western Kansas is blanketed with high-quality care Story by Kelly Tomkies Photography by Jeff Adkins


estern Kansas healthcare providers have been diligent in their efforts to provide the highest level of patient care to the local community. The region’s population is well served with 4.9 community hospitals per 100,000 residents, enabling western Kansas citizens to have a variety of choices when it comes to medical care.

The quality of care area hospitals provide has drawn national attention. For example, Hays Medical Center, a private, not-for-profit hospital in Hays, appeared on U.S. News’ 2012-13 Best Hospitals rankings. The hospital was recognized for its high performance levels in gastroenterology and geriatrics care services. The medical center

also was named one of the Top 100 Places to Work by Modern Health Care magazine. “This is the fifth year in a row that we’ve been recognized. That [the Modern Health Care ranking] is not easy to accomplish,” says Shae Veach, Hays’ vice president of operations. Like the other medical care providers in the region, the 222b u si n e ss c l i m a t e . c o m / w e s t e r n - ks



Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

bed Hays Medical Center is dedicated to meeting the current and future needs of the community. One way the organization is demonstrating that commitment is through its recent expansion. The $18.5 million project will add about 65,000 square feet of office and clinic space. The space will house Hays’ new cardiology unit and administrative offices. “We’re very highly engaged in the region,” Veach says. Expanding Footprints and Services Hays Medical Center is not the only area hospital that is expanding, adding new technologies or services, or providing state-of-the-art, highlevel medical care. Southwest Medical Center in Liberal is a regional medical center. To better serve its growing population, the Center is adding a $17 million facility that includes a medical office center. Western Plains Medical Complex in Dodge City is a 99-bed hospital that offers a range of services including diagnostic and interventional cardiology, a cardiac cath lab, and cardiac rehabilitation. In Scott County, voters approved funding three years ago that has been used to rebuild Scott County Hospital. The new $24 million hospital opened in 2012. The hospital added 23 new employees

in its first three months to meet the influx of patients. New Facilities One aspect of health care that appeared to be lacking until recently was access to specialists and specialty care, says Scott J. Taylor, president and CEO of St. Catherine Hospital in Garden City. “This region has not had access to specialists on a permanent basis in many areas,” Taylor says. Over the last five years, St. Catherine Hospital has spent a great deal of funds to recruit specialists so the community would have timely access to this type of care. St. Catherine also completed a $9.5 million project that added 64 new medical and surgical rooms in June 2011. At Russell Regional Hospital in Russell, care providers are also focusing on efforts to encourage physical activity as well as diagnostic imaging. The hospital recently installed a 128-slice low-dose computerized tomography scanner. “The scanner gives us early, fast and clear images,” says Shelley Boden, CEO. “CT virtual colonoscopy is available, CT lung screenings are now available and also CT cardiac scoring.” From new facilities to new technologies and programs, it is clear that western Kansas’ hospitals are committed to serving the residents’ health-care needs.

Clockwise from top left: St. Catherine Hospital in Garden City recently added a tower to its facility; A mural depicting scenes from western Kansas decorates the wall at the main entrance to St. Catherine Hospital; Russell Regional Hospital installed a 128-slice lowdose computerized tomography scanner that quickly gives physicians clear images.

Health Kids Challenge Western Kansas is home to a nationally recognized health promotion organization, Healthy Kids Challenge. Located in Dighton, HKC is a not-for-profit organization that helps school, community, business and health leaders take action for kids to eat better, move, and enjoy a healthy balance in their lives. Claudia Hohnbaum, who serves as assistant director of HKC, says the organization actually got its start as part of a community outreach project with Cooking Light magazine in 1998 and became a standalone entity in 2002. “We work with a lot of teachers, youth group leaders, and whole communities and schools,” Hohnbaum says. “We help them to provide an environment and opportunities for youth to be more active and make healthy choices.” One example of HKC’s successful programs is its after school reading program that takes place at libraries throughout the state. “It’s a program to develop opportunities through reading and activities connected to reading,” Hohnbaum says. To learn more about Healthy Kids Challenge, visit the organization’s website at

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Globally Speaking Fort Hays State University brings western Kansas to the world

Story by Kevin Litwin Photography by Jeff Adkins


he city of Hays is one of the few cities in the United States that has a positive trade balance with China. That’s because the Chinese government pays Fort Hays State University about $2 million annually for FHSU to provide and teach a 30-hour business-related academic curriculum to Chinese students attending college at Shenyang Normal University as well as SIAS University in


XinZheng. All Chinese students attending FHSU classes in China are adept at speaking English, which is vital because all classes are taught in English. The idea started more than 10 years ago when former Hays resident Shawn Chen approached Fort Hays State with a vision of starting a university curriculum in China that would teach in English. Chen owns businesses in both the United States and China

Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

and wanted Chinese students to learn Western business practices – such as record keeping, marketing concepts and organization. West Meets East The first year of the FHSU partnership in China saw 50 students in the program. Enrollment has grown to 3,500 today. “Having a diploma from Fort Hays State University is a big

Fort Hays State University Location: Hays, KS Founded: 1902 Campus: 200 acres Enrollment: 12,800, including about 4,700 on campus and about 8,100 online Academic staff: 350 Academics: Four colleges totaling 30 departments offering 60 majors for undergraduates and 20 for graduate students

Students walk across Fort Hays State University’s campus. More than 4,000 of the school’s students are from 30 different countries.

advantage for Chinese college students in China – it’s a real door-opener for jobs because employers are impressed with their grasp of the dual languages and the business practices they have learned,” says Kent Steward, director of FHSU’s Office of University Relations. Steward says getting a degree in China is often different than earning a degree in the U.S. “A Chinese student might earn

30 credits from one school, 40 credits from another school, 15 from another and so on in pursuit of their degree,” he says. “Students often work while in college and their job can take them to different provinces, so they must enroll in different universities. Earning the 30 credits from FHSU goes toward their overall degree, but they still get a separate diploma from FHSU to showcase their English-

speaking business achievement.” A major force in connecting western Kansas to the world, Fort Hays State is a 12,800-student powerhouse that offers dozens of degree and certificate programs. More than 4,500 students take at least one class online. FHSU has four colleges – arts and sciences, business and entrepreneurshp, education and technology, and health and life sciences. The four colleges have b u si n e ss c l i m a t e . c o m / w e s t e r n - ks


A class completes a project outdoors on the campus of Fort Hays State University, which enrolls approximately 12,800 students.

30 departments offering 60 majors for undergraduates and 20 for graduate students. Fort Hays State, founded in 1902, is the only state university in western Kansas, thereby attracting students from a wide area. The university has made a number of inroads internationally. More than 4,000 of the university’s students are from 30 different countries.

President Travels to China Fort Hays State takes its China partnership so seriously that FHSU President Edward H. Hammond travels to China each spring to personally hand the business diplomas to graduates. The Kansas Board of Regents has even contacted FHSU for help in assisting other instate universities that might want to get more involved with education in China.

“Our FHSU faculty members make the syllabus and design the courses, then off-site instructors come to the Hays campus to train for about a week before going to China to teach in classrooms,” Steward says. “FHSU faculty members remain in Hays and still grade all papers and oversee everything. It is an interesting educational experience for everyone involved.”

Community and Technical Colleges in western Kansas Hutchinson Community College North Central Kansas Technical College Northwest Kansas Technical College Pratt Community College Seward County Community College Area Technical School

Barton Community College Colby Community College Cloud County Community College Dodge City Community College Garden City Community College


Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

Help Wanted Western Kansas colleges align programs to in-demand jobs Western Kansas is blanketed by a network of 10 community and technical colleges that are the backbone of workforce training and development efforts and ensure that the region’s labor supply is stocked with skilled workers. Seward County Community College merged five years ago with an area technical college to form SCCC/Area Technical School, and has added several industrial technology programs. One of those programs is corrosion technology, and students who earn an associate degree in that field often earn starting salaries around $50,000. “There are 90,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines in the seven counties that our college serves, and technicians are greatly needed to inspect and sometimes repair corroded pipes that were buried underground as early as the 1940s,” says Duane Dunn, SCCC/ATS president. “Not enough young people are being trained for that specific industry, and current older workers are approaching retirement. That’s why we added the vital program.”

Interesting, High-Paying Jobs Colleges throughout western Kansas are orienting certificate and degree programs to emerging fields. For example, one of the courses of study at North Central Kansas Technical College, which has campuses in Beloit and Hays, focuses on culinary arts, while Dodge City Community College is offering a curriculum in flight instruction. Barton Community College has a degree program in phlebotomy, an in-demand field in health care. Dunn sees opportunities in fastgrowing or in-demand job areas such as the school’s natural gas compression technology program and a process technician program. “High-paying companies in these industries aren’t necessarily

looking for engineers, but for technicians with one- and two-year degrees,” he says. “Working in a biofuel plant or an oil field – these interesting kinds of careers are out there at companies such as Quinque Oil and Gas, Merit Energy, Oxy USA and many more.” Seward County Community College also has several agriculture-based programs in its curriculum lineup.

“What is the economy in western Kansas? It is oil-and-gas and agriculture, so we are really focusing our academic efforts into those two areas,” Dunn says. “SCCC is teaching courses in greenhouse management and ag production, tying crops and livestock into more academic programs that will help sustain the agriculture industry in this region.” – Kevin Litwin

Meade County KanSaS Fowler – Meade – plains neighborhood Revitalization tax Rebate program tourist attractions Fair & Festivals Great Schools Health Care Facilities

dalton Gang Hideout

For more information and Web links, please contact or visit: Meade County eConoMiC developMent 200 N. Fowler St. 3rd Floor Courthouse P.O. Box 238 Meade, KS 67864-0238 (620) 873-8795 tel (620) 873-8796 fax

b u si n e ss c l i m a t e . c o m / w e s t e r n - ks



Western Kansas Economic Development Guide


Welcome Home Western Kansas offers open spaces, friendly environment

Story by Kevin Litwin • Photography by Jeff Adkins


estern Kansas residents often say they live in the heart of America. It is a region that offers wide open spaces, natural beauty, a hassle-free lifestyle, low crime rates and traffic-friendly communities as well as access to numerous cultural and recreational options that include some of the country’s best fishing, hunting and nature-watching opportunities. Western Kansas is also a good place to own a business. The recent economic downturn didn’t hit the region as badly as the rest of the country, largely because of its core industries in farming, ranching and energy exploration that take advantage of the region’s topography. “I’ve been operating my small business for the past seven years, and it’s true that western Kansas didn’t suffer too much with the recent economy. In fact, my business has seen growth and expansion over the last three years,” says Gerald Wyman, brew master and owner of Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Company in downtown Hays.

Wyman’s business is a restaurant/brewery where he has developed a full line of microbrewed beers including several pale ales, stouts, wheat beers and amber ales. “I really appreciate the lifestyle I see and experience in western Kansas, with friendly people who actually wave to you when they pass you while driving along our roadways,” he says. “It’s cliché, but western Kansas is a great place to live and work, plus this part of the United States is scenic with a strong appreciation for nature.” Hard-Fighting White Bass That appreciation for nature can be found at wonders such as the 10,778-acre Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge, Sandsage Bison Range and Wildlife Area in Garden City, which has more than 100 bison, and Cheyenne Bottoms in Great Bend – home of the largest marsh in the interior United States. There are also waterways for all kinds of recreation including spots such as Waconda Lake in Mitchell

A neon sign welcomes customers to Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Company in downtown Hays.

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Western Kansas Economic Development Guide

County, Cedar Bluff Reservoir in Trego County, and Wilson Lake in Russell and Lincoln counties. Rivers, lakes and reservoirs are havens for anglers, including Keith Sebelius Reservoir, which is known for wipers – a hardfighting hybrid of white bass and striped bass. Peace and Adventure Hunting is a major passion and major draw in western Kansas, which is especially renowned for its many pheasant hunting options. LaSada, a lodge in Russell that has been a popular destination since its opening in 1998, is open year round and especially busy during various hunting seasons from September through January. “We started as a hunting service but have added a restaurant, bed and breakfast, clay shooting complex, rifle range and dog training center where we sell English Springer spaniels and English cocker spaniels,” says Roxanne Young, who owns LaSada with her husband, Scott. “LaSada gets a lot of repeat business and we host several corporate get-togethers for companies interested in better accessing their employees to the great outdoors.” Young says hunting is prominent in western Kansas, with good opportunities to bag pheasant, quail, chucker, deer and turkey. “People who live in western Kansas or visit us every year comment that they appreciate the peacefulness of the outdoors,” she says. “A lot of city dwellers book stays because the air is so clean and they can see stars at night. Even our slogan at LaSada echoes the sentiments of western Kansas – ‘It’s a peaceful place.’”

Clockwise from top left: Ducks at Cheyenne Bottoms; Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing Company in Hays; The Kansas Wetlands Education Center in Great Bend; LaSada Sporting Clays and Hunting Service; The 5-4-7 Arts Center in Greensburg.; Sailing at Lake Scott Park in Scott City.

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Ad Index

20 City of Pratt

4 Ellis County Coalition

8 Graham County Economic Development

6 Great Bend Chamber of Commerce

9 Rooks County Economic Development 1 Russell County Economic

Development & Convention

& Visitors Bureau

10 Scott City Health Complex

C1A Scott County Development

52 Hays Medical Center

16 Kansas Bioscience Authority

59 Meade County Economic Development

47 Oberlin-Decatur Area Economic Development

A1 Phillips County Economic Development

Committee Inc. 2 Smith Center Economic Development 64 Wichita County Economic Development Inc. C4 WKREDA

Highlighted Attractions Western Kansas has no shortage of must-do and must-see things. Here are just a few examples: Kansas’ Biggest Rodeo This three-day annual festival in Phillipsburg in early August draws 500 competitors vying for $100,000 in prize money. Seven competitions are featured – bareback riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, team roping, women’s barrel racing and bull riding.

Washington-Ames House Restoration is continuing on the Washington-Ames House, the largest home in Leoti. William and Julia Washington were the original owners in the 1880s, and Margie and Oren Ames purchased it in the late 1950s. Today, the house at J and Third streets is owned by the Wichita County Historical Society, which is overseeing the preservation project.

animals such as elephants, giraffes, lions and birds. It is open year round, free to pedestrians, and vehicles may drive through for just $10.

collection of dinosaur material, fossil grass seeds, and marine and terrestrial vertebrate fossils, as well as a discovery room.

Dorothy’s House

Oil Patch Museum

This house in Liberal is a replica of Dorothy’s Kansas home from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, and is on the Coronado Museum grounds. The home is the centerpiece of an annual Oztoberfest celebration that attracts about 5,000 Oz devotees.

Boot Hill Museum Boot Hill Museum features artifacts dealing with the late 19th and early 20th century cultural history of Dodge City. Included in the exhibition are guns, saloon items, wanted posters, photographs and a cowboy hall of fame.

Lee Richardson Zoo

Sternberg Museum

The zoo in Garden City is home to hundreds of native Kansas and exotic

The Sternberg Museum at Fort Hays State University features a large

The Oil Patch Museum in Russell includes an oil storage tank along with geology, drilling, production and transportation exhibits. The museum is open daily from June until August, and by appointment at other times.

The Jerry Thomas Gallery & Collection Jerry Thomas is a nationally acclaimed artist who grew up in Scott City and has his gallery in Scott County. Thomas was inducted into the Southwestern College Fine Arts Hall of Fame in 2012. For more information on western Kansas attractions, go to – Kevin Litwin

Live the Life you Love in Wichita county

Leoti ~Marienthal ~ Selkirk heaLth & WeLLness ~ award-Winning Long-term care facility ~ comprehensive health care and Public health ~ fitness center and Recreation activities education system ~ 10:1 student teacher Ratio ~ new elementary school facilities ~ Rural opportunity Zone incentive community GRoWinG economy ~ supporting entrepreneurs ~ Wichita county economic development Revolving Loan fund ~ e-community RLf ~ a history of innovative agriculture ~ ample Job opportunities ~ neighborhood Revitalization Plan community ~ Great Place to Raise a family ~ outdoor Recreation and entertainment ~ active and safe community ~ World class fair and carnival

city of Leoti • 406 s. 4th • Leoti, Ks 67861 (620) 375-2341 • Wichita county economic development 206 s. 4th • Leoti, Ks 67861 (620) 375-2182 •

Population Centers (2011) Dodge City: 27,921 Garden City: 26,880 Liberal: 20,861 Hays: 20,717

economic profile Business snapshot Covering 54 counties, western Kansas offers a diverse economy including agriculture and value-added food production, dairy and cattle industries, and an energy sector that includes oil and gas production and renewables. Unified School District No. 443, Dodge City: 1,280

Income Median Household Income (2010) Dodge City: $43,994 Garden City: $47,975 Liberal: $44,227 Hays: $47,975 Western Kansas: $44,531

Per-Capita Income (2010) Dodge City: $18,350 Garden City: $20,066 Liberal: $24,536 Hays: $20,066 Western Kansas: $23,805

Hays Medical Center, Hays: 1,235 Unified School District No. 457, Garden City : 1,200 Fort Hays State University, Hays: 849 Unified School District No. 489, Hays: 747 Cheyenne Drilling, Garden City: 638 St. Catherine Hospital, Garden City: 635 Seward County Community College, Liberal: 450

Civilian Labor Force (September 2012)

major employers National Beef, Liberal: 3,500 Cargill Meat Solutions, Dodge City: 2,700 National Beef, Dodge City: 2,600 Tyson Fresh Meats, Garden City: 2,200

Dodge City/Ford County: 20,200 Garden City/Finney County: 20,719 Liberal/Seward County: 10,999 Hays/Ellis County: 19,089 Western Kansas: 230,596 Source: Kansas Department of Labor

Transportation Western Kansas is served by Interstate 70, which runs east to west. Other key thoroughfares include U.S. Highways 24, 36, 54 and 56 that all run east to west, and U.S. Highways 83, 183, 281 and 283 that run north to south.

Airports Dodge City Regional Airport Garden City Regional Airport Hays Regional Airport Liberal Mid-America Regional Airport

Rail Burlington Northern Santa Fe Cimarron Valley Railroad Kansas City Southern Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad

What’s Online  For more in-depth demographic, statistical and community information on western Kansas, go to and click on “Facts & Stats,” then “Demographics.”

Kyle-Rail America Norfolk Southern

visit our

advertisers City of Pratt

Kansas Bioscience Authority

Ellis County Coalition

Meade County Economic Development

Graham County Economic Development Great Bend Chamber of Commerce Hays Medical Center

Oberlin-Decatur Area Economic Development Phillips County Economic Development

Rooks County Economic Development

Smith Center Economic Development

Russell County Economic Development & Convention & Visitors Bureau

Wichita County Economic Development Inc.

Scott City Health Complex


Scott County Development Committee Inc.

b u si n e ss c l i m a t e . c o m / w e s t e r n - ks


Western Kansas Economic Development Guide 2013  

The 54 counties of Western Kansas, which include Dodge City, Garden City, Hays and Liberal, have a diverse economy that features agriculture...

Western Kansas Economic Development Guide 2013  

The 54 counties of Western Kansas, which include Dodge City, Garden City, Hays and Liberal, have a diverse economy that features agriculture...