Business in Bourbon County by Gregg Motley

Gregg Motley. President of the Regional Economic Development, Inc. Submitted photo.

Business in Bourbon County

I mentioned in a previous column that Bourbon County lags behind our peers in generating retail sales, but how have we done in attracting and maintaining businesses over the years? As it turns out, we are the best in SEK, and it is not even close. Consider the following chart using the latest state data from 2012:

SEK County

Business Sales

Sales per Person


$ 846,438,000



$ 335,710,000















$ 880,183,000



$ 286,748,000









$ 84,879,000


Surprised? Did you know that Bourbon County businesses generate more than $1.1 billion in annual sales? Would you have guessed that we generate more sales per person than Crawford County or Miami County? Would you have conceived that we generate more sales per person than our closest SEK competitor by a whopping 16%?

Need further evidence? Bourbon County is also number one in SEK at attracting workers from outside the county. In fact, we are tied for 15th statewide out of 105 counties in recruiting employees from other jurisdictions to commute here to work. Additionally, we trail only Miami County from the list above in income per person in the county.

Obviously, we have a robust business community in Bourbon County, which is why we attract commuters from all around the region. We have invested in an industrial park, we have spent money on economic development and tourism, and our local governments have been business-friendly. Our communities had the foresight to start BEDCO (now BC REDI) in 1992 to encourage economic development and manage the industrial park. The Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce is considered a model for rural Kansas.

Now is not the time to rest on our laurels and coast. We need to continue to make investments in our business community, understanding that it has paid off for us all.

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