Letter to The Editor: Cory Bryars

As a resident of Bourbon County and highly engaged in several goings-on in Fort Scott, I strongly advocate for a City staff position to represent the best interests of Fort Scott in Economic Development efforts in our City, County, and region. I am asking fellow residents to vocally support this via phone calls, emails, Facebook or however you make your opinion known
Nothing against any of the third-party agencies that are involved in trying to bring business, housing, training, workforce, whatever, to Fort Scott, but each has its own agenda and its own leadership. They each do what they do well, but what they inherently can NOT do is put the City of Fort Scott first and foremost in ALL of their efforts. And that is what ONLY the City of Fort Scott CAN do, and needs to do.
In the best of times, economic development is a vital part of City operations. In times like these with pending closures of major employers, it is paramount that we take swift and decisive action to assess what other economic issues might be coming our way, head off any that we can, and actively preserve as well as grow our existing business and housing base.
And this action is long overdue. The City Manager stated clearly in the Feb 6 City Commission meeting that existing local businesses need to be contacted regularly, and it is known that to-date they have not been. Why not?
A letter from REDI to the community stated that Timken and Valu leadership/corporate were contacted immediately upon the closure announcements. This is REACTIVE—not a recipe for success. Why were relevant city and county officials and their contracted economic development entities not in regular PROACTIVE contact with local and corporate leadership—asking what’s working, what’s not, what threats are there to your staying in Fort Scott? What do you need to never leave Fort Scott, and to grow your operations in Fort Scott. Why? Because perhaps WE DON’T HAVE A PERSON WHOSE JOB THAT IS?? WHY NOT???
Some have said Brad Matkin can do that. Some have said REDI can do that. Some might think that is the role of a Chamber of Commerce, or a group of civic-minded private citizens who are good at getting things done.
And maybe you know the old story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. Well—if you do, it’s worth hearing again relative to this situation, and if not—here ya go…
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
The moral of the story? NOBODY DID IT. Is that the Fort Scott way? Every day I see people of ACTION, changing old things, making new things, whatever it takes to GET IT DONE. We have the people, and we have the spirit, but for the last several years apparently, we HAVEN’T HAD THE JOB ASSIGNED.
I had a discussion with a party relevant to one of the closures as to whether they would have entertained work-study or apprenticeship programs from the high school or FSCC. Their answer was “absolutely, but no one ever even asked if they were interested, let alone proposed an actionable plan.” Sure—the phone rings both ways, but if we want to control our destiny, we don’t wait for that call—WE DIAL THAT PHONE A THOUSAND TIMES EVEN IF THEY DON’T CALL BACK ONCE!
We’ve been hearing that there are work-force problems—from skill set to just a willingness to show up on time, if at all. That problem wasn’t resolved with significant pay increases—that it is a sign of a deeper problem than any one company or city or county can solve. These are cultural issues, so we’ve got to get the schools involved, and community programs well beyond chasing net new business.
Sure, there are several agencies that I’m aware of that are working on their perceived portion of this, and I’m sure the cliché of “Together, we can start to make change” is true in this case, but WHO IS TYING IT TOGETHER? WHO IS ADDRESSING IT FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE OVERALL WELL-BEING OF OUR CITY, which drives the well-being of our County and surrounding areas.
$40,000 to REDI might as well be washed away in river foam 😉 UNLESS we have a systemic way to specify how it SHOULD be used, How it WAS used, and what the RESULTS were.
Instead of starting with how little can we spend and hope to get better results from an entity over which we have little or no control and whose results are not where everyone “planned” them to be, how about we say—
∙ What are our desired end results? (how many dwellings, incremental tax dollars, FTEs, whatever other measurable results)
∙ How do we achieve those results?
∙ And once we have an action plan, How Much Will It Cost?
∙ And if we can afford—we do it. If not, we cycle back and prioritize until we have $$$ and actions aligned. And if we say we can’t afford it, are we willing to accept the results? If not—find a way to afford it—we have the money, and there are ways.
This is not an indictment of REDI. Far from it. And it is not a recommendation that more money at REDI is the solution. And it is not an endorsement of HBCAT, although I do support them strongly, as well as supporting REDI and any other entity helping our citizens.
This is ONE THING—a call for action by our City Commission to hire a City employee to look out for the best interests of our city. That is the solution. Not a solution. THE SOLUTION.
Cory Bryars…913-269-3122 text or call

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