New eco-devo director brings youthful outlook

Anthony Roy, a native of western Kansas, is the new economic development director for Hillsboro.Economic leadership in Hillsboro is featuring a youthful look these days with the hiring of Anthony Roy as the city’s new development director.

Roy, 23, was selected following an interview process led by city leaders and members of the Hillsboro Development Corp.

Roy succeeds Clint Seibel, who has retired after 10 years in that role.

A western Kansas native, Roy has already set a goal for his first year.

“This first year, knowing very few people in Hillsboro, getting to know the community and what they’ve done so far—that’s going to be a huge success,” he said.

“I’m not coming in here with any specific goals outside of that. There’s a lot of things rattling around that I’m seeing need to be worked on.”

Growing up

Roy was born in Louisiana, but grew up in western Kansas. His father, an oil field worker and business manager for a home manufacturer, grew up on a farm near Demar. His mother grew up seven miles away in Bogue, a town of around 125 people in Graham County.

“I kind of grew up in Bogue, predominantly,” Roy said. He graduated from Palco High School, which had 32 students at the time.

Following high school, Roy studied for two years at Colby Community College, then transferred to Fort Hays State University, where he is pursuing a degree in public administration and needs about 30 hours to complete his degree.

Career direction

Roy said he always thought while growing up that he would become a doctor, given his mother’s career experience.

“I worked in health care in high school and college and decided it wasn’t really my thing,” he said.

Roy got a taste for economic development when he accepted an internship with Rural Telephone.

Roy briefly stepped back into the health-care field, where he started his own home-health company. He also served on the Bogue City Council before being appointed economic development director for all of Ness County.

“I worked there for a year and a half, and here I am now,” he said.

Coming to Hillsboro

Roy said a friend notified him of the open position in Hillsboro.

“I kind of checked out the community and went ahead and applied—no particular reason, but you just get that feeling,” he said.

The interview process involved Mayor Delores Dalke, City Admini­strator Larry Paine and HDC representatives Lyman Adams and Darrell Driggers.

“I just felt like it was a good fit,” Roy said.

Hillsboro has a lot to offer, he added.

“The community has a lot of private investment, which for an economic development person, that’s huge,” he said. “The community size is kind of what I like. I don’t see myself ever living or working in Wichita or in (large) towns like Salina or Hays.”

A good school system was another priority for Roy, who has a 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.

“One of the things I had in Ness County is two great school systems to work with, specifically Ness City High School,” he said. “They’re very into the entrepreneurship stuff.

“I know that for a lot of my colleagues, their school systems aren’t like that,” Roy added. “I’ve been reassured by the Ness City superintendent that this (Hillsboro) school district is very similar to Ness City’s. That made my decision a little bit easier.”

A good school system is important to Roy in his new role because he views youth as the primary population pool when it comes to local economic development.

“It’s much easier to keep someone who’s from here to stay or to move back, then somebody who hasn’t heard of Hillsboro,” he said. “You can’t have a city or an economy without people, so I think population is really important.”

Roy sees population and increasing the local tax base as related issues.

“In Ness City my focus was really the youth,” he said. “They had a spotty record with the youth, so I was kind of starting from scratch.

“Here it’s a little bit different,” he added. “The community has had an economic development director for 10 years, and he’s been very active. He’s obviously set the bar high.”

While in Ness City, Roy was instrumental in organizing the multi-county Central Plains Youth Entrepre­neurial Challenge, a program sponsored by NetWork Kansas.

The Entrepreneurship Com­munities of Hillsboro and Marion have sponsored the local event for two years now.

Economic philosophy

Roy said his personal economic development philosophy mirrors what Hillsboro has been doing for many years.

“I am huge on the homegrown,” he said. “I don’t want to say you shouldn’t spend any time trying to attract outside businesses, but I strongly believe that your best is home-grown—whether it’s expanding an existing business or somebody local who has a great idea.

“That is a small community’s best bet. That’s even true for bigger cities, in all honesty.”

Roy said he is aware of the county’s new economic development committee and its desire to bring outside businesses to Marion County.

“I don’t know enough about the group yet,” he said. “I can say I’m definitely pro-collaboration. We’re all in this together, but that’s a two-way street. I’ve not sat down with them and talked with them.”

Beyond the job

Outside of work, Roy said he enjoys connecting with his extended family.

“Some people think it’s odd, but I am extremely close to all my aunts and cousins,” he said. “I have cousins who live in Wichita, so I spend a lot of time with them, especially during the summer.”

Temporarily, Roy is living in Wichita but plans to make his home in Hillsboro “sooner than later.”

“I think it’s very important that someone in my position is living in the community and has a vested interest in the community,” he said. “Plus, I don’t want to be living in Wichita for very long.”

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