It’s crazy to think I have been working as the Bates County Economic Developer for 6 months now. When I first interviewed for this position, I was asked what I would expect to accomplish in my first 6 months. My response was that I would like to get to know the communities and the people and determine what their needs are. Along with that, I would work with Adrian, Butler, Rich Hill, and the County to see what they would like me to work on. So, let’s see how I have done…
I think what I really loved when I first started my job was how welcoming everybody was to me. I know sometimes in smaller towns that anybody who moves to the area will get a big “Outsider” stamp on their forehead, but that was not the case here. I immediately got welcomed to multiple meetings, some to speak at and some to just sit in on. I am now part of quite a few of those groups that I originally sat in on and going to these functions has been a very fun part of my job. While I had said in my interview this is exactly what I planned on doing, the effect it had was so much greater than I expected. Slowly the word has spread about who I am and what I am doing, so I have gotten multiple calls and visits from people throughout Bates County with ideas and possible opportunities. I have always said the community is going to be involved in my position and it is great that as I have reached out to get to know people, everybody is doing the same back to me.
When I first started and sat down with all the different towns, there were a lot of needs and expectations everyone had for me. Have they all gotten accomplished in 6 months? No. Will they all get accomplished in the next 6 months? Probably not. What I do know is, by hearing from all these people, what their needs are and what they expect from me, I now know we are all on the same page and we are all working together towards the goal of making this county better.
With that said, I have accomplished a lot in my first 6 months. When I first started this career, Butler had asked me to do 2 things: 1. Update the Subdivision Regulations and 2. Update the Comprehensive Plan. I have finished the Subdivision Regulations which I followed with taking it before the Planning Commission and that should be finished within the next few months. The Comprehensive Plan is a process that I am very excited to begin and will be starting soon. I have created a timeline and will have complete community involvement in this process.
I also wrote a grant to create a master plan for the 3rd floor courtrooms in the Bates County Courthouse. We have recently found out that the County has been awarded that grant and will be starting that process soon. This is a great accomplishment for myself and the County and it will hopefully lead to great opportunities in the future.
In the next 6 months I really hope to focus on building the business community from within. I have had multiple businesses approach me and I really want to start reaching out more to figure out the different needs of the community. I plan to really start working with the communities to put together a business plan for not only Bates County, but for Rich Hill, Butler, and Adrian. There is a lot that still needs to be determined, like the strength and weaknesses of the community. We really need to build upon our strengths and work with our weaknesses to determine exactly what the needs are for Bates County. We can then use this information to market towards certain businesses so that we can have a well-rounded community.
That is really what I plan to focus on in the next 6 months. Bates County has an amazing foundation, we just need to grow from it. Over time the focus can expand beyond just business development to opportunities, like housing, but for now this is a great place to start. I plan to go door-to-door in the next few months to try to meet as many businesses as possible, and to get people engaged. So, if you are a business owner and would like to meet sometime, please contact me so we can sit down together one-on-one.
Next week I will be at the Heartland Economic Development Course in Kansas City and I cannot wait to bring that knowledge back to Bates County! In my next blog I hope to at least give an overview on what I did and how I plan to apply the information to my work.