Answering a couple questions could help improve the Bourbon County economy

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Despite this morning’s announcement, county leaders say the future of Bourbon County’s economy is bright. But Bourbon County Economic Development Director Jody Hoener says they need your help making that future happen.

It all comes down to answering a couple of questions. And how those questions are answered won’t just have an effect on new businesses. It will also play a role in keeping and expanding the businesses that are already in Bourbon County.

“We have been open roughly seven and a half years. We opened in May of 2011,” says David Lipe, Owner, Sharky’s Pub & Grub.

Sharky’s Pub and Grub isn’t David Lipe’s first venture into the restaurant business.

“I’ve been kind of all around, from Manhattan, Kansas to Austin, Texas; Lake of the Ozarks; Kansas City, all over Kansas City metro area,” says Lipe.

Lipe, who’s from Ft. Scott originally, says there were several things that brought him back to Bourbon County. First was a desire to raise his family. But he says there was also an opportunity to continue his business career. Bourbon County Economic Development Director Jody Hoener says learning why someone like Lipe chose Bourbon County is just one part of a survey taking a look at Bourbon County’s economic future.

“We’re putting together a strategic plan. We want to make sure it’s a community plan, though, so we’re going to be out talking to communities, business owners, doing business retention and expansion surveys,” says Jody Hoener.

Hoener says the county is working with several agencies, like the Chamber of Commerce and the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team for the project. She says when it comes to attracting new business, you have to have a team approach, because open land or buildings isn’t always enough to convince someone to come to town.

“Now is a critical point in time for Bourbon county to really focus on our quality of life and why somebody would want to move here, why workforce would want to live here,” says Hoener.

Lipe says the plan is about more than bringing new business to town. He says taking a team approach will help new and current business owners succeed.

“We all have to be on the same page and working together and for each other and with each other, I think is one of the most important things, especially in a smaller community, we all have each other’s backs, and, you know, going in the right direction,” says Lipe.

Hoener says she’s expecting it to take six to nine months to gather the data and present the public with a strategic plan for the future.

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