New approach to Great Plains Industrial Park could make 2019 great for Labette County

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A new approach to the Great Plains Industrial Park is expected to help make 2019 a big year for Labette County.

“It’s found land, and a found opportunity that you don’t get every day,” says Bob Wood.

Bob Wood, Chairman of the Great Plains Development Authority, says it’s rare that a county or city gets an opportunity like the one the great plains industrial park offers.

“The Army transferred this property to us as a tool to develop our county economically and industrially,” says Wood.

In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure Program put an end to the Kansas army ammunition plant just outside of Parsons, and lead to the creation of the Great Plains Industrial Park. In the past, Wood says the city of Parsons, Labette County and the Great Plains Board have worked well together, but a study by Pittsburg State University has given them some ideas to help turn the park from open land into a thriving business complex.

“The Great Plains Development Authority has had their economic development team, the city of Parsons has had their own economic development team, and the county has done things in the past, but has had a hard time organizing economic development efforts,” says Wood.

Now all of that will fall under one umbrella, through “Grow Labette County,” and Parsons Economic Development Director Jim Zaleski is the man tasked with heading up that group.

“Great Plains, as with an industrial location in the area, has a great opportunity for economic growth in this county,” says Jim Zaleski.

Zaleski says growth in the park means growth not just for the city of Parsons and Labette County, but for all of Southeast Kansas.

“2019 is just going to be an awesome year for all of Southeast Kansas, and if the catalyst can be the Great Plains Industrial Park, that’s better, too,” says Zaleski.

Wood says when the army ammunition plant was in its heyday, people would drive from surrounding counties to work there. And with the right approach, he believe the future could see a return to that.

“We need to do whatever we can to take that opportunity and turn the tide in a rural community, in Southeast Kansas,” says Bob Wood.

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