Economic cooperation needs to happen for county to prosper

The end appears to be near for the Marion County Community Economic Development Corp. (MCCEDC) with the City of Marion pulling its financial support for the organization.

Maybe this will be a good thing and maybe it won’t, and rather than getting into the complexities of that organization and how it runs, it would be more useful to keep an eye toward the future and what should come of economic development going forward in this county.

Cooperation needs to happen at some level in Marion County. If it’s not through MCCEDC, then it needs to be in another form or shape.

Marion County and the cities within it aren’t big enough alone to thumb their noses at cooperation—at least they shouldn’t.

This county has an opportunity to make real impacts with economic development through tourism at the county lake and reservoir, something we outlined a few weeks ago, and also by using things that exist already, like the bike path going through the county.

Working together—the county and the cities within it—is the best opportunity the people of this county have to succeed economically.

For those who say it’s just not going to happen, I would point you to a grouping of communities just to the south and west of us.

Bridging Reno and Sedgwick counties is K-96 Highway. Between Hutchinson and Wichita sit several communities along that highway: South Hutchinson, Haven, Mount Hope, Colwich and Maize. Over 10 years ago, they recognized that they were stronger together than apart and formed the K-96 Corridor Association to spur economic growth along the highway.

Not all of those communities have always gotten along. There was bad blood between Haven and Mount Hope for years, and for many people, there still is, yet the group pools resources, has a professional run the association and has been successful over time.

None of those communities had enough resources on their own to produce good economic development without taxing their people too much. They made a logical choice to work together, even if every development wouldn’t be located in their community.

It’s fairly simple: if something is developed in Hillsboro or Marion (likely something homegrown and not recruited) then it could potentially be good for other communities.

How so?

Well, lots of people still commute in this county, and that means people locate where they need to be so they can get to work in a reasonable amount of time. In other words, if something did develop in this county, people working there might locate not just in the development’s town but in neighboring towns because of school district choices, ease of commute and other amenities.

It’s fairly simple stuff.

Something good in Hillsboro is good for Marion and vice versa, with the same going for every other town in the county. What is good for one is good for all, and what is bad for one is bad for the others, too. We function as a grouping of towns that all rely on each other to some degree. So the towns should start looking at each other as not just neighbors but as one big community separated by just a few, short miles.

Through cooperation, funds could be funneled properly without overtaxing any community, and maybe then we can see some positive growth for the citizens who make this area a good one.

Hopefully we will see some leadership that goes toward that direction eventually.

– Joey Young, Publisher