County seeking business people for new task force

Marion County commissioners are taking the lead by putting together a task force, and requesting volunteers serve on this committee in researching economic development.

County Clerk Tina Spencer said those interested in volunteering would be charged with researching and developing recommendations to the commissioners.

?The group will be comprised of about seven members (to include) citizens of Marion County and members of the business community interested in economic development,? she said.

In addition, the volunteers would study options and gather information pertaining to business and community development, tourism and marketing and other aspects of economic development, she said.

Marion City Administrator Roger Holter said the format would be similar to those who volunteered when the discussion began about building a new county jail.

?County Attorney Susan Robson would facilitate the operation and look at whatever possible interlocal agreements could be in the future,? Holter said after attending last week?s commission meeting.

Formulate the future

?This exploratory or steering committee would be formulating a path for the future,? Holter said.

According to information at the March 28 county meeting, Commissioner Randy Dallke said he did not believe government entities should participate in this, that it should be the business community developing a plan for the businesses.

Holter said it was his understanding that Dallke believes economic develop?ment should be a private-sector operation and not a public-sector one.

Moving forward

?As a city, we will continue to move forward. (New economic development director) Randy Collett has a methodical plan and is working diligently,? Holter said.

?He has made three recruiting trips and made initial impacts with retailers, manufacturers and suppliers.?

Holter said the city of Marion has already been through the visioning process and certain components of that are in place.

?We have designed a plan based on our assets currently available and then will target specific organizations, industries and companies,? he said. ?We have to effectively market our communities and leverage that which exists.?

Like any community, Holter said Marion has a certain amount of liabilities and assets, and it?s all about how to present a balanced approach and at least create the conversations.

?One of the challenges we are going to be facing not just in Marion, but in Marion County, we lack a skilled labor force,? he said.

Knowing the liability, a collaborative effort will be needed between economic development professionals, but also business communities overall.

?In helping employers to identify practices for effective recruitment of staff as well as cooperative efforts with educational institutions on developing a training program to fill projected needs would be part of a recruitment pool that can leverage for the community moving forward,? Holter said.

?As a community, we have long lamented that some of the county?s most talented young people are trained, educated and developed here, but then we send them off to other places.

?Then it is many years before they return for the family value, the lifestyle that is so important,? he added.

?We need to charge our educational and business community relationship in order to identify those potential jobs to eliminate that need (for them) to go explore and then come back.?

Holter said, ?Now, we can identify a current businesses, and in four years their need for a plumber, machinist or welder?creating that communications tool to move forward.

?That is an effort regardless of where the county and cities go on economic development.?

What?s best?

Spencer said the group would also explore the feasibility of contracting certain services or sharing services.

?(The committee) will be expected to consider the best interests of all communities in Marion County, and must work as a team,? she said.

For more information about the county?s special committee, call 620-382-2185 or email coclerk@marioncoks.net.

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