CloudCorp Presents Economic Development 101

CloudCorp Presents Economic Development 101

CloudCorp held an Economic Development 101 presentation on Wednesday, February 12th at the Cloud County Co-Op Distribution Center Conference Room in Concordia.

Dan Steffen, Regional Project Manager for the Kansas Department of Commerce, discussed what rural economic development means for the region and what role residents can play in economic development.

Economic development is defined as a program, group of policies or activity that seeks to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs that facilitate growth and provide a stable tax base.  But Steffen told KNCK News economic development is a long-term process that requires continual maintenance.

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Steffen said the community is the product that's being sold to existing businesses, start-up businesses and those you are working to attract.  He said communities have to work on their weaknesses while building on their strengths.

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During his presentation, Steffen outlined a three-legged stool to business development -- retention and expansion of existing businesses, business start-ups and recruiting new businesses.

Steffen said the priority should be helping existing businesses in the community expand, noting that 80% of all net new jobs come from existing businesses.

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Approximately 15% of all net new jobs come from business start-ups.

Steffen encouraged the community to investigate local, home-grown businesses for the potential for expansion.

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Steffen says recruiting new businesses makes up just 5% of all net new jobs in a community.

He told KNCK News the key is to be prepared, but to not spend a lot of money chasing smokestacks.

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This is Steffen's second stint with the Kansas Department of Commerce.  He first started as an economic development field representative for the Kansas Department of Commerce in Northwest Kansas in 1987.  Upon the position being eliminated, Dan served as the assistant state director of the Kansas Main Street Program that was based in Topeka.

Dan spent 14 ½ years with DISCOVER Financial Services / Dean Witter, DISCOVER and Co., and Morgan Stanley before jumping on the opportunity to return to his first career choice of economic development; specifically, business development in Northwest Kansas.  He has been back with the Department of Commerce for over 14 years.

He describes his primary customers as local economic development directors, chamber of commerce executives and regional economic development entities, as well as business owners and managers in North Central Kansas.  Dan’s office is in Hays, but you will seldom catch him there, as he is usually on the road, somewhere in the region.

Dan is originally from Ulysses, Kansas, but claims Hays as home.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in Business/Communications and Bachelor of Science in Industrial Arts from Fort Hays State University and an Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) Certification from the National Development Council in Washington D.C.