By KEN CARPENTER
Great Bend Post
During their weekly meeting last week, members of the Barton County Commission selected Commissioner Shawn Hutchinson to serve as their representative on the Board of GBED, Great Bend Economic Development. GBED is a public/private partnership that was created to spur economic growth in the Great Bend area.
On November 2, the Commission approved $250,000 in funding for GBED's 2022 budget. That matches the amount the City of Great Bend is providing GBED next year.
Hutchinson told Eagle Radio why he believes the county's investment in GBED is worthwhile.
"If the City of Great Bend hired an economic development coordinator or director, and then the county also hired an economic development director, now we’ve doubled down on a position that can be handled by one person,” Hutchinson said. “So our funds can go further by pooling them, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We're pooling the county money and the city money along with private donations.”
Hutchinson will be joining six other board members in January. A representative from the Great Bend City Council also serves on the board.
Hutchinson is optimistic that GBED will be successful in generating long-term economic development for Great Bend and Barton County.
"I wouldn’t be looking for any huge announcements in the next few months,” Hutchinson predicted. “It’s going to take a little bit of time, but once they start happening, hopefully, we have the ripple effect, the domino effect. And you start to see one thing, then a second, then a third, then a fourth, and all these things just kind of come together.”
The GBED board currently has five members and has been meeting weekly. The number of board members will expand to seven in January. Meeting times and frequency will be determined by the new board then.