Marion County has a lot to offer. Surrounded by counties much larger than itself, Marion County has something none of those places have: the scenery and the reservoir. That is what Marion County should be building its approach to economic development around.
The appeal of a big company locating to Marion County is something anyone can get excited about. The problem with that dream is every community with an industrial park in Kansas, the country and really, the world are having those same dreams. Unless Marion County can offer something unique to those companies we are trying to attract, they are going to locate somewhere else that makes them the most money and gives them the best talent pool.
In most circumstances, we aren’t going to fit the bill for many of the needs a big fish company would need to move here, not at least without giving them the world and back through tax incentives, and even then it’s no great deal.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t leave a line out for the fish to bite, but trying to feed the family on that line might not be the best plan going forward.
That is why Marion County should build their economic plans around the idea that we can attract out-of-county tax dollars to this area through scenery, the reservoir, and a chance to escape the city for a weekend.
Wichitans will drive to have an experience. So will those from Newton, McPherson, Salina, and the entire region if they feel they can get something of value out of that experience. Marion County could be full of cars with out-of-county tags all through the spring and summer. Those tags bring money to be spent in our county and therefore tax dollars flowing into the coffers to be spent on quality of life for those who live here.
Drive to Peabody to the Coneburg Inn on the weekend and see the out-of-county tags at the little bar and grill. Drive to Ad Astra in Strong City, and you will see the same thing.
If you paired a unique dining experience with a truly stellar lake experience, potentially a lake resort of some kind, you have a starting block to get people coming on the weekends to enjoy what Marion County has to offer. Yes, this requires investment, but using economic development dollars on something like this has an actual payoff at the end of the day.
As planning takes place for the direction the county will take with economic development, we hope that a serious discussion involving tourism takes place.
This county has beautiful natural resources that the rest of the region would be happy to spend a few shekels to enjoy. We just need to make it easy for them to do so.
– Joey Young, Publisher