Where is the largest transloading facility in North America? Not New York, Chicago, Dallas or Atlanta. It is located in Garden City, Kansas. This project, along with a new dairy processing plant and more, are contributing to the growth and vitality of this part of rural Kansas.
Last week we learned about Lona Duvall, who worked to help bring the new milk processing plant to Garden City in September, 2017. Lona is president and CEO of Finney County Economic Development in Garden City. She grew up in the nearby rural community of Leoti, population 1,450 people. Now, that’s rural.
After college, Lona came to Garden City where she worked in banking. In 2010, she joined the Finney County Economic Development organization as its business retention director and was promoted to president in 2011.
Production leads to processing which leads to progress. That is the desired path of value-added economic development. It was true for the Kansas beef industry in the 1980s and 1990s, and it is now coming true in the Kansas dairy industry. Milk production in western Kansas has grown to the point that new milk processing capacity has developed there as well.
Last week we learned about the western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance, or wKREDA, which works on various regional issues including growing the dairy industry in western Kansas. Many of the leaders of wKREDA had seen the boom in jobs which resulted from the growth of meatpacking in the region during the 1980s and `90s. It was a long progression. The production of irrigated feed grain led to the creation of concentrated cattle feeding. Then the packing plants wanted to be close to the source of production, and large beef packing facilities were built in southwest Kansas.
Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University writes Kansas Profile. The weekly posts highlight individuals or companies in rural Kansas who are making a difference to their community and state.
The Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is a public / private partnership between Kansas State University and the Huck Boyd Foundation. The mission of the institute is to help rural people help themselves. Learn more at www.huckboydinstitute.org.