Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly recently celebrated new beginnings for rural economic development during a several-stop visit to Southeast Kansas. First, she traveled to Cherryvale to break ground on Bartlett Grain’s new, $390 million soybean processing facility, which will create 50 high-quality jobs for local residents.
“Bartlett Grain invested $390 million into building a new soybean processing facility because they believe their future in Cherryvale, Kansas, is bright,” Governor Kelly said. “They’re right. Kansas’ agriculture industry is modernizing, and the soybeans processed at this plant will be used for a new type of renewable diesel fuel. Barlett is investing in a proof point for what our state can offer businesses involved in renewable energy.”
Governor Kelly also toured Indy Brew Works, a family-owned brewery in Independence, where she talked with the owners, economic development leaders, and city officials about the work the state is doing to assist small businesses.
“When I took office, I brought back the Kansas Main Street Program to help cities access technical services, networking, and training opportunities to restore their historic downtown districts,” said Governor Kelly. “Independence is a Main Street community, and it was a pleasure meeting with local small businesses leaders today to see how Main Street has succeeded – and to hear how my Administration can build on its support for businesses in smaller towns.”
Governor Kelly ended her visit with a grand opening celebration of a facility that will house the Office of Rural Prosperity (ORP). The ORP, created during the Kelly Administration and housed within the Kansas Department of Commerce, was born out of a listening tour in which the Administration heard from rural community leaders. It has helped local leaders become champions for their cities and counties by providing grant funding for housing, infrastructure, main street, and cultural activities.
“We created the Office of Rural Prosperity so that our rural communities would know that their concerns and issues were being heard and that decisions were being made with their interests in mind,” Governor Kelly said. “From this new Independence location, the Office will continue its work to bring new investment and jobs to rural Kansas.”
Since the start of the Kelly Administration, there have been more than 650 economic development projects worth nearly $9 billion of investment into the Kansas economy. These investments have created and retained more than 43,000 jobs. Beyond restarting the Main Street program, the Kelly Administration recently supported small businesses by signing bipartisan House Bill 2136, which invested $50 million to help small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.