LIBERAL – Governor Laura Kelly and Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam today made stops in Johnson City and Liberal along the Governor’s Prosperity on the Plains Tour. The statewide economic development tour focuses on the importance of supporting Kansas businesses and the Kelly Administration’s positive economic development track record.
“Without our rural communities, there’s no Kansas. That’s why we have to continue our laser-sharp focus on creating jobs in and attracting businesses to every corner of the state,” Governor Kelly said. “Thank you to the economic development experts and small business owners I met with today – together, we will continue to grow our economy.”
First Stop: Economic Development Roundtable in Johnson City
One of Governor Kelly’s stops on the tour was Wholly Cow Market in Johnson City. She met with small business owners and economic development leaders from Greeley, Scott, and Seward Counties to discuss ways to further business investment and growth in western Kansas. The discussion also turned to the protection and sustainable use of the state’s water resources and to the importance of expanding affordable housing for working families.
“Western Kansas residents often feel isolated from Topeka and the rest of the state,” Michelle Canny, co-owner and operator of Wholly Cow Market, said. “It is nice to have Governor Kelly along with the Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam take time to gather local leaders to discuss and brainstorm ideas to stimulate growth for our rural communities. With smaller populations, business owners and small towns have to work three times has hard to bring commerce this way.”
Since taking office, the Kelly administration has created 750 economic development projects worth more than $14 billion in capital investment and has created and retained more than 50,000 jobs. Those successes include new ag-related businesses like Hilmar Cheese Company, which invested $600 million into Kansas to build a state-of-the-art cheese and whey manufacturing facility in Dodge City – creating 260 jobs with long term projections of an additional $550 million in capital investment and 750 additional new jobs.
Beyond Governor Kelly and Secretary Beam, the roundtable participants included:
- Bryan Ellis, Mayor of Johnson City
- State Senator John Doll, Kansas Senate District 39
- Michelle Canny, Wholly Cow Market and Bear Creek Farms
- Eli Svaty, Seward County Development Cooperation
- John Kennedy, Greeley County Community Development
- Katie Eisenhour, Scott County Development Committee, Inc.
- Cat Moyer, Pioneer Communications
- Bob Dale, Grant County Economic Development Corporation
Second Stop: Small Business Tours in Liberal
Governor Kelly and Secretary Beam then stopped in Liberal, where they met with small business owners at Diligence Barber Lounge, Downstairs Salon, and the Liberal Chamber of Commerce to discuss the importance of small businesses to the state economy.
“We are happy to have Governor Kelly visit Southwest Kansas so she can meet some of our amazing entrepreneurs and experience firsthand how Liberal and its many businesses benefit our state,” Rozelle Webb, CEO of Liberal Chamber of Commerce, said.
Since taking office, Governor Kelly has worked to support small businesses and expand the workforce. Some of those measures include:
- Resurrecting the Kansas Main Street program, which enables communities to preserve and revitalize their downtown districts by helping them develop a comprehensive strategy for economic success. This program was ended in 2012 by the Brownback administration;
- Establishing the Office of Broadband Development with millions of dollars announced in broadband internet infrastructure expansion;
- Signing bipartisan House Bill 2136 to invest $50 million to help small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Signing bipartisan House Bill 2237 to make child care more accessible and affordable by providing tax credits to businesses that help employees with child care either by providing on-site services or contracting with licensed providers.
Photos for media use of today’s tour stops can be found below: