Alva Review-Courier -

Barber County Development works to bring Economic Development back into the county


March 15, 2023

As of March 1st, Barber County Development once again has “Boots on the Ground” when it comes to economic development. The board has engaged in a three-month contract with Kiowa County Economic Development (KCED), and is working with their Director Julie Lyon.

Lyon has been with the KCED for almost two years, and has been instrumental in increasing childcare capacity in Kiowa County, has been successful in obtaining multiple grants, and has experience with housing, business development and entrepreneurship. Lyon says “I have been envisioning regional collaboration for over a year now and believe with combined efforts, we can really have an impact on South Central Kansas. Barber County has great people and so many opportunities…. I’m really looking forward to connecting the two!”

In partnering with Kiowa County, Barber County Development gains a team of skilled people, including grant sriters, a childcare specialist, bookkeeping, and multiple people working on behalf of Barber County. Lyon has already been in every town in Barber County, with the exception of Sun City, which will be happening this week. Along with Lyon, Kingman County’s Economic Development Director Leslie Schrag has been working in partnership with Kiowa County Economic Development. When asked about her involvement, Schrag says “It’s great to be working with a team of people with different skill sets to assist Barber County Development in its commitment to growth and sustainability. Local businesses and residents are key to rural Kansas’ success, and we look forward to engaging with the Barber County communities.”

Prior to working in Kiowa County, Lyon served as the Mayor of Stafford for almost four years, was on the Governing Body of the Kansas League of Municipalities, was the South Central Representative for the recent Statewide Housing Assessment Committee, and currently serves on the Kingman County Fairboard as well as the Leadership League of South Central Kansas.

Leslie has been with Kingman County for three years, previously worked for the Kingman Hospital for 17 years, and currently sits on the SouthCentral Kansas Economic Development District Board of Directors. Both Schrag and Lyon are entrepreneurs, each owning their own small business (liquor store and motel).

The Team's Priorities

*Assisting with an economic development job description and identifying local qualified potential director candidates

*Provide grant writing support and services as well as sharing what grants may be available

*Create and manage both website and social media account(s)

*County-wide efforts towards advancing economic development initiatives (prioritizing those set forth within the WSU 2022 Strategic Agenda)

*Work to connect programs and people across Barber County, with the goal of increasing the county's tax base

If you are interested in working or partnering with Barber County Development, have a business idea, are interested in investing in your community, or would like more information on available grant opportunities, please reach out to Julie Lyon at 620-474-9537.


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