- Associated Press - Sunday, February 18, 2018

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Small towns in Kansas are trying to revitalize a struggling local economy amid challenges to attract businesses to the area.

A Kansas Department of Commerce report said that just three of the state’s successful business recruitment projects were outside of the Kansas City metro areas last fiscal year. The report said those three projects represented 10 percent of total business investment but only accounted for 0.25 percent of the new jobs.

The Reno County Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors identified several priorities this year to help boost the local economy, the Hutchinson News reported .

While this year has started off well business recruitment, “things have been really flat since 2016,” said Debra Teufel, president of the chamber.

“There can be a lot of reasons for that,” she said. “It was an election year, and there’s more uncertainty about the future sometimes in an election year, so projects are put on hold.”

Teufel said that a significant part of the difficulty were staff cuts at the Commerce Department and a focus by the remaining employees on the Kansas City metro area.

“The Department of Commerce is the front line where projects come in,” she said. “If a national firm is looking at this region of the country, if they want to be on the I-35 corridor and within so many miles of their customers or suppliers, if they want a building or site of a certain size, it starts with the Department of Commerce. They do the legwork and reach out to us.”

The chamber will focus on business expansion and recruitment, workforce development, the local regulatory environment, retail development, housing and entrepreneurship.

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com


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