On August 21st-23rd, Secretary Toland made several stops around Southeast Kansas to meet with business and community leaders and tour some great Kansas companies.
Here’s a look back at where he visited:
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21ST
Wednesday morning, Secretary Toland spoke at the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Action Committee’s 16th annual Eggs and Issues breakfast at AdventHealth. His presentation focused on the past, present and future of economic development efforts in Kansas. Attendees included: Ottawa Area Chamber President/CEO John Coen, Ottawa Mayor Blake Jorgensen and District 59 Representative Blaine Finch.He provided an overview of the Department of Commerce and explained the role the agency plays in partnering with local economic development professionals and municipalities to bring businesses and jobs to their cities. Secretary Toland also had the opportunity to lay out his vision and goals for the Department of Commerce under the current administration. This article in the Ottawa Herald shares more about what was discussed. After the presentation, Secretary Toland stayed to answer questions and visit with the group of community leaders who gathered in Ottawa for the event.
On Wednesday evening, Secretary Toland met with Rep. Blaine Finch at the Not Lost Brewing in Ottawa. The owners provided a tour of this new brewery, which opened in March 2019. Not Lost serves several of their own brews and has become a very popular place in town, recently expanding their hours to serve even more customers.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 22ND
Thursday morning, Secretary Toland took a tour of Chanute Manufacturing Company. He was joined by Scott Cunningham (Chamber president), Jane Brophy (Exec Director of Chanute Commerce) and Kansas Workforce employee Susie Ellis and KANSASWorks Southeast employee Aime Cope.
Chanute Manufacturing Company has a 40-year history of providing heat transfer and steam generating equipment fabricated for use in fossil fuel power generation, combined cycle power generation, petrochemical and process industries worldwide.
Dustin Stanley, VP of Operations provided the tour. This company is doing a huge amount of work and producing a lot of product from their facility in Chanute. They are a market leader in the supply of engineered pressure parts for gas and solid fuel generation. The boilers and parts they make are used in a wide array of industries throughout the world. The next stop in Chanute was a tour of Bridgewood Cabinetry’s 200,000 square foot facility. Bridgewood Custom Cabinetry began production in September of 1990—combining high-quality materials with experience and crafting beautiful custom cabinetry at an affordable price.
General Manager Jeff Caldwell showed the Secretary around the facility. Bridgewood employs over 200 individuals in the area, many of whom have worked there for over 10 years.
Bridgewood Custom Cabinetry utilizes innovative technology to produce their stylish, high-quality cabinets. You can see some of their process here.
The final stop in Chanute was a tour of the ongoing renovation of the Kress building downtown.
Cora Finley (above) owns Consignment, which is located on the first floor of the building. She fell in love with the old historic building and has put a lot of time and effort into renovations. As a small business owner, she is intentional about making downtown Chanute prosper, and this renovation has been a great success story in that effort.
Thursday evening, in Pittsburg, Secretary Toland visited with a group from Leadership Kansas.
As a panelist for the event, he discussed rural Kansas revitalization and his vision and goals for the Department of Commerce. In addition, he was able to share thoughts on what the class of Leadership Kansas can do in each of their hometowns to make Kansas prosper. It was a very informed and engaged audience of leaders for our state.
At the event, Secretary Toland ran into Department of Administration Secretary DeAngela Burns-Wallace who were both there to visit the group in Pittsburg.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 23RD
On Friday morning, Secretary Toland was joined by Rep. Proehl and Sen. Goddard for a tour of the Great Plains Industrial Park in Parsons.
The industrial park was originally a Kansas Army Ammunition Plant but the assets were turned over to the local development authority after the plant closed. Parsons is currently working to recruit businesses to the industrial park that deal with energetics.
During the visit, Secretary Toland was able to see firsthand the potential of the site and discuss the future growth with local officials, including the ability to recruit specialized companies who need a secure perimeter and access to rail, both of which are strengths of this site. You can read more in this article in the Parsons Sun.
The second stop of the day was at Coffeyville Community College (CCC) Tech College. Trisha Purdon organized the visit in Coffeyville and Independence, and Rep. Kelly joined throughout the day. Dr. Marlon Thornburg gave us the tour of the college.
CCC has a vast range of programs ranging from Nursing and EMT to welding and electricians. Many of CCC’s graduates stay in the area and work at local industries. CCC is extremely flexible with class schedules, allowing students to balance a part time job and classes.
Their electrician and medical assistant programs have very high job placement rates. Secretary Toland enjoyed the opportunity to visit with students in these two programs on his visit.
The third stop of the day was the Jerry Hamm Early Learning Center (ELC), a comprehensive, universal day care and preschool for Coffeyville and the surrounding communities.
Around 215 children are served by the ELC daily. The ELC and its partnerships throughout the community—the public school system, Head Start program and healthcare institutes throughout the county—serve as a model for other child care facilities.
Also in Montgomery County, the Secretary visited Standard Motor Products in Independence, which is celebrating its 100th year this year. Their facility is around 450,000 sq. ft, and they employ over 350 employees. SMP produces a wide variety of automotive electronics and electromechanical tools, including: sensors, controllers, switches, regulators and other ignition components.
They have a robust engineering and R&D program, and their employees often design, build and test the machines used throughout the production. They are continually advancing and adding more to their production capabilities. They thrive by creating a work environment that values each employee. Many of their employees have worked at SMP for over 10 years.
To close out his trip, Secretary Toland stopped by the Independence Workforce Center. He enjoyed spending time with the hardworking team at the Workforce Center, who specialize in connecting employees with job opportunities in the Southeast Kansas region.
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