By KEN CARPENTER
Great Bend Post
Barton County Commission Chairman Shawn Hutchinson said he wants to see Barton County rebrand itself as a progressive, proactive, business-minded innovator in central Kansas. Hutchinson made that comment as a guest Thursday on 1590 KVGB and 95.5 FM's County Edition. He has served as one of the county's five commissioners since January 2021.
During his time in office, Hutchinson and his fellow commissioners have used federal money set aside to help the county recover from the COVID-19 pandemic to stimulate economic growth.
In March, the commission awarded a $435,000 grant to Great Bend Economic Development to build a childcare center in Great Bend. That organization has identified a shortage of childcare, housing and the county's workforce as the biggest problems limiting growth.
Hutchinson explained why the commission has made the childcare issue a high priority.
"We need more workers in Barton County,” Hutchinson commented. “So how does childcare or housing relate to that? With housing, you could potentially bring more people to your community. With childcare, it’s something you can get going maybe a little faster.
“They're both extremely important. I don’t know which one is more important than the other. But I know with childcare, we can get that going faster and put people back to work that already live here in Barton County and already have a home here.”
Hutchinson said that increasing the workforce will create more taxpayers which is a better alternative than raising taxes.