Education advocates urged to participate in upcoming economic town hall meetings

Education advocates are urged to participate in a series of town hall meetings next week that are focused on gathering public input on economic development.

The Kansas Framework for Growth meetings were announced by Commerce Secretary David Toland as part of the economic planning process that had been kicked off earlier this year by Gov. Laura Kelly.

“We’ve been very deliberate in engaging businesses and community partners in this process, and we’ve had great participation so far,” Toland said. “Now, we’re really looking forward to hearing more from the public about what they believe are our biggest opportunities and how we might overcome some of the challenges we’re facing,” he said.

The meetings are scheduled for 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m Tue. Dec. 10 at the BriefSpace, Grow Hays Building, 219 W. 10th St. in Hays; 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wed. Dec.11 at the Kansas City Kansas Chamber of Commerce, 727 Minnesota Ave. in Kansas City, Kansas; 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thur. Dec. 12 at Equity Bank, 1700 N. Lincoln Ave. in Liberal; and 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thur. Dec. 12 at Citizens Hall, McPherson Community Building, 122 E. Marlin St. in McPherson.

The meetings are open to the public and could provide education advocates an opportunity to make sure that Kansas’ public and higher education system figure prominently in development of a statewide economic strategy. Research shows that higher education levels mean higher incomes for Kansans and that most jobs in the future will require not only a high school diploma but also postsecondary education.

Recently, research consultants working on the state economic plan met with State Board of Education Chairwoman Kathy Busch, KASB leaders, including KASB President Shannon Kimball, and representatives of USA-Kansas and KNEA to talk about the research and the role that K-12 education can play in supporting future economic development and workforce needs.

Each of the town hall meetings will give the public the opportunity to view data around key indicators of economic performance in Kansas, including demographics, education, workforce participation, incentive efficiency and industry mix.

“The development of a strategy to accelerate economic growth is a critical exercise to ensure that Kansas can compete in a global economy. Just as critical is ensuring all Kansans are represented and can participate in the development of the strategy,” Toland said.

The Kansas Department of Commerce has launched an online survey to receive input. Here is a link to the survey.

The Kansas Framework for Growth is the first economic development strategy for the state of Kansas since the Redwood-Krider report was issued in 1986.

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