Prowers Economic Prosperity:  Building Our Own Destiny

Annual PEP Meeting 2021

 

 

Dr. Linda Lujan, President of Prowers Economic Prosperity for 2021, invited the audience attending the organization’s annual meeting this past Thursday, June 17th, and encouraged them and area residents in general, to take a more active role in moving economic growth forward in Prowers County.

Feature Speaker, Joann Knight

“Compare what the accomplishments of the past year were to what we discussed at our annual meeting two years ago.  Even during the pandemic, we saw some very positive changes and accomplishments in our community for new business development and added jobs,” she stated, adding that everyone now in the room should prepare for an even better report in 2022.  Dr. Lujan stressed the importance of bringing in new members, especially a younger group who will be able to continue the efforts of some members who will not be as active in future years.

Anne Marie Crampton, Rick Robbins and Brenda May

PEP Executive Director, Cheryl Sanchez, recapped some of the developments from the past year including a 2% growth in new business licenses in Prowers County.  She said of the 14 businesses she met with for strategic business planning, 42 new people have been hired by them and of the 33 she visited over the year, 90 new jobs were added to the workforce.  “Despite Covid, the sales tax revenue in Lamar is up an average of 23% compared to 2020, while some of that is attributed to buying through online sales,” she explained.

PEP Executive Director Cheryl Sanchez and Stephanie Gonzales

A new slate of officers was introduced with Dr. Linda Lujan, President of Lamar Community College as president, Rick Robbins as vice-president, Tyler Thrall as treasurer and Treagon Marquez as secretary.  The executive committee members-at-large are Anne Marie Crampton representing the City of Lamar, Ron Cook representing Prowers County and Joe Spitz.

Sanchez provided an overview created by a county-wide needs assessment study which was a close duplicate for each community in the county starting with more housing.  Wiley, Lamar, Holly and Granada are in need of new housing developments as well as improvements in basic infrastructure such as improved water systems and road repair.

Beverly Augustine of The Lassie

At the same time, each community is working to bring in new business or has recently added new outlets and employment opportunities such as the mail distribution center in Granada and the work being done to have Prairieland Packing underway.  Camp Amache is now closer to receiving a National Parks designation which can help generate tourism revenue.  Wiley has formed a citizen’s committee to address its needs for business growth and it was announced a new flooring store has recently opened there.  For Lamar, Troy Manor is being demolished leaving that land open for development and the Lamar Repowering Project has likewise been torn down and the two domes and related infrastructure is being turned into a local agriculture concern.  Lamar is getting a new coffee shop and several restaurants and motels are in the planning stages.  The Lamar airport recently received recognition as a regional facility by the Federal Aviation Administration.  The town of Holly is working for water upgrades as well as attracting new business ventures.

A first-ever awards presentation highlighted significant business developments throughout the community.  Legacy Bank received the Longevity Award, having served four generations since it was founded by the Esgar family in 1907.  Home and Season in Lamar received the New Business award with Haley May Rhodes continuing the tradition of customer service begun by Ruthie Esgar, former owner of Bettianns.  Stephanie Gonzales, executive director of SECED was presented with the Community Champion award for her continuing efforts throughout Prowers County.  Two residents also were highlighted during the evening; Beverly Augustine, owner/operator of The Lassie was noted as a staunch community supporter, having owned her main street clothing store for 70 years in Lamar and Judy Turpin for her mentorship of a young associate into her insurance business.

The evening’s keynote speaker was Joann Knight, Ford County Kansas Economic Development Director, who provided a recap of her thirty years in various positions of business growth in southwestern Kansas.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureCity of GranadaCity of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyConsumer IssuesCountyCOVID-19EconomyEducationEmploymentEnvironmentEventsFeaturedHousingRecreationSchoolThe ArtsThe Journal AlertTourismTransportationUtilitiesWaterYouth

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