FORT SCOTT, Kan. (KSNF) – Economic development is getting a more focused outlook in Bourbon County.

The Bourbon County Economic Development Council, or BEDCO, has been working on developing the region since the 1980s.

While small changes have been occurring here and there, officials want to refocus their efforts to combat the problems that not only face them, but even the entire country.

“Really we’re trying to bring it back to what it was when it started, which is representing every community throughout Bourbon county,” says Robert Harrington, BEDCO Economic Development Director

That’s a goal Harrington has faced head-on for more than a week.

He’s been working on reorganizing the efforts of BEDCO to help face decreasing populations in the county.

This not only effects them, but a lot of rural America.

“We have to face the labor shortages, that’s something that’s across the country, trying to find workers. In order to do that in rural America we really have to start focusing on other things like quality of life issues, such as healthcare, such as housing,” says Harrington.

The non-profit has been reaching out to everyone it can.

“We got every taxing entity, school, college, each of the local towns in the counties, Fulton, Redfield, Bronson, Mapleton, kind of get everyone involved in the whole county, kind of expand our economic development,” says Josh Jones, Fort Scott Mayor & Business Owner.

BEDCO has also absorbed the Bourbon County Workforce and Entrepreneurship Resource Center to help foster small and new business in the county.

“Focus on little companies and what we have and try to expand them expand, you know the people who’s been around here for generations and generations, see what we can do to help them and get smaller companies here who will live here and invest in Bourbon county,” says Jones.

For now they’re making sure those companies know BEDCO is there to help.

“It is really establishing what this organization will do and how we’re going to do it,” says Harrington.

BEDCO is located on the second floor of Landmark Bank in Fort Scott.

Since it is a non-profit, its services are free of charge.