Infrastructure! by Gregg Motley

Greg Motley. President of the Bourbon County Economic Development Council. Submitted photo.

Gregg Motley is the chairman of the Bourbon County Economic Development Council.

As mentioned in previous columns, there is not much we can do about some megatrends; but, we can do the basic blocking and tackling to make our town more attractive and livable. We can’t lose sight of long-term investments in exchange for short-term gains. What is infrastructure? Congress has struggled with this definition lately. Here are my thoughts:

Roads and Sewers

Somehow, we quit maintaining these two critical features. I was involved in an exchange program, designed to send teams to a “sister city” and evaluate them on numerous criteria. Our partner was Independence, Kansas, and a small group of us took off for a stealth tour of the town. A few days later, a group from there toured Fort Scott. Their report on us? Overwhelmingly positive, except one category: roads. And, if they could have seen underground to examine our sewer system, that grade might have been worse. It cost five times more to repair/replace than to maintain. Yes, the catch up, and beginning proper maintenance might be painful in the short-term, but the price tag will be substantially more later.

Internet Access

In whatever form it comes, Internet access is becoming almost important as paved roads. It is critical to our businesses and schools, as well as desirable for every citizen in Bourbon County. We have to expand and improve this infrastructure, in whatever form it comes, to the far reaches of the county.


Studies show that outsiders judge the vitality of communities by their downtowns and central business districts. We have to pay attention to this aspect of every community in Bourbon County, and see what we can do to put our best foot forward.


What do working-age parents evaluate first in considering a move to a community? This is a no-brainer; continue to invest our collective time, talent, and treasure in the public and private schools in our county.


Years ago, corporate site selectors paid little attention to recreational amenities when deciding where to locate; now it is critical. Younger people want something to do; some place healthy to “hang out”. Older people want amenities too, a place to connect around a recreational activity.

Faith Community/Charity

Is this infrastructure? Yes! How we create community, and how we respond to the most vulnerable among us is a quality of life issue that must be addressed. Most American’s are concerned about the poor, and want to live in communities that respond to these critical needs. We can’t ignore this factor when considering how to grow our communities and create quality of life for all. I am so glad for the success of the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation, our strong church community, and other charities that focus on meeting basic human needs.

Next week: Eleven common attributes of non-energy sector small towns that are bucking the trends, and continuing to grow.

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