Bourbon County Economic Development Council, Inc. is a not-for-profit started in 1992.
The council “reconstituted” in 2020.
“The bylaws were amended, and the board reconstituted in 2020, to make economic development functions a county-wide effort again, and to reestablish cooperation and trust amongst the disparate geographies in our county,” he said. “We can no longer afford to go it alone, and must work together.”
In the last few months, the council began a search for an economic development director.
Their goal for this month is to hire an economic development director to move the county forward.
“The Human Resource Committee (of BEDCO) is currently running the process of hiring an executive director,” Motley said. “We had 13 applications from all over the United States, and one from overseas.”
Through a qualifications matrix, six applications were selected, and each of the six has completed a test to measure skills and temperament suitable for the job, he said.
The committee will reduce the number of applicants based on their scores, and begin interviewing the finalists soon, Motley said.
Composition of BEDCO
“The board of trustees consists of appointees by the…seven incorporated cities, one each from USD 234, USD 235, Fort Scott Community College, the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce, and two at-large members,” Motley said.
The group is comprised of:
Bourbon County Commissioner Lynne Oharah, City of Fort Scott Commissioner Josh Jones, Jess Ervin representing Uniontown, Mike Blevins-Mapleton, Michael Stewart-Bronson, (Treasurer) Mary Pemberton-Redfield, Misty Adams-Fulton, Ted Hessong-USD234, Bret Howard-USD235, (Vice President) Jim Fewins-Fort Scott Community College,(President) Greg Motley-Fort Scott Area Community Foundation, (At-Large) Mark McCoy and (At-Large) Heather Davis.
“Our goal is to be a trusted vehicle whereby we can act as a catalyst for economic development and any other function that might integrate well on a county-wide basis,” Motley said. “Right now, our most valuable assets are lots in the Fort Scott Industrial Park; in conjunction with the county, we are currently working with an active prospect on a land deal in that vicinity that would bring a new business to town.”
“The main board only meets when there is something of substance to consider,” Motley said.
In addition to the human resource committee, the operations committee is meeting regularly.
The operations committee met on Feb. 11, and worked on logistics of onboarding the economic development director, including office space, phone, etc., Motley said.
That committee is comprised of Mark McCoy, Lynne Oharah, Mary Pemberton, Misty Adams, and Josh Jones.
“We discussed office locations,” McCoy said. “Cost is number one, we have very limited funds.”
Two locations were discussed: the BWERC ( Bourbon County Workforce and Entrepreneur Resource Center) office above the new Star Emporium Downtown General Store on Main Street and an office inside Landmark Bank, also on Main Street.
“Both of these offer the potential of the first year, no cost,” McCoy said.
Also discussed was the equipment needed for the job.
“Telecommunication is an important part of the job,” McCoy said. “We want to make sure BEDCO has appropriate information technology access.”
The position is being funded by the Bourbon County Commission who committed $130,000 for the total package of salary, benefits, equipment, supplies, transportation expenses, association expenses, and office space, McCoy said.
“The goal is to save taxes in Bourbon County,” McCoy said. “My goal in the future is to have one economic director representing the county.”
Currently, the City of Fort Scott and the Bourbon County Commission both have an economic director.
The city and county recently agreed to share the finance director position, held by Susan Bancroft.
To learn more about this collaboration:
The BEDCO group is considering a name change since they have a new direction of the whole county.
“There are four names under consideration,” McCoy said. “With the new direction, it is important to revise who you are and where you are going.”