We have in rural Western Kansas an unlimited amount of potential for economic growth and development. One area is in the field of commercial design which I have spent years in research and development with corporations all cross the United States. The possibilities for creating those products here in Western Kansas are not only very feasible but the fact that we sit smack dab in the middle of the nation for shipping is even more of a plus.
I was born and raised in Western Kansas with that Entrepreneurial Spirit, always encouraged to constantly look for better ways to do something or a new more efficient way to attack a problem. I, like many other Kansans, grew up on the farm with that same spirit. (IF YOU CAN’T FIND A WAY, MAKE A WAY) and now more than ever with the economic situation for rural farm communities, is the time to carry that spirit even further. In 1967, I graduated from college with a degree in Design, Commercial Design, Interior Design and Jewelry Design. At the time there were no jobs available, so we undertook the challenge to take a small drapery shop in Western Kansas and turn it into a complete Interior Design Studio with emphasis on giving people in rural Western Kansas many of the products and services available to people in larger cities. This required us to constantly experiment with new processes, materials and ideas. I quickly learned in the Design Business, you need to continually be looking for new ideas and ways to create a new market (what’s cutting edge today is obsolete tomorrow). Eventually we concentrated on the Commercial Design (offices, business complexes, hotels/motels, etc.) market as that was the real money market. I spent much time researching that field and found it was wide open to new possibilities. I also found that I could work the field from right here in Western Kansas with the power of internet, and technology and with so much lower overhead. I also developed several systems of decorative architectural moldings which could be literally put up over night in a commercial setting (saving them interruption of business and productivity and liability) plus dollars spent to remodel and redecorate because of the nature of the materials. I have given young farmers the challenge to design and create solutions to some of the products and parts that I needed to complete different projects and each time was not disappointed by the results.
In every facet of life there are new products and solutions being designed and created everyday and we are missing out on what could be the lions’ share right here in Western Kansas. The materials are readily available and suppliers more than willing to work with us to create this empire. SO WHY AREN’T WE? There is an entire Commercial Design Industry that is just waiting to be tapped and we have the most capable workforce and talent to do the job. I happen to also be Adjunct Professor with the Design Department at Ft. Hays State University working with the young talent I find that many of them would prefer to be located in Western Kansas (with access to the world) because of the freedom to think and design in a rural open area. I have talked and met with many individuals in the commercial sector across the nation who say they would be glad to work with us, especially if we can produce new exciting, quality products for lower costs (and we can).
The state needs to employ retired people who have been active entrepreneurs to travel the territory and work with local individuals to help them to jumpstart into new areas of commerce which could adapt to the area and the talent to produce products and materials that could be exported nationwide. Here in Western Kansas we have many talented individuals with the ability to design and produce many different products, materials and services, using Wester Kansas as a base and fanning out across the nation.
I have been semi -retired but am ready to go to work to promote and build up what could be the greatest boost to our rural economy of the century. It is my desire to create these industries so that the talent that fuels the fire will earn shares in the companies in order to build their future as well as Western Kansas and to keep our talent here at home. Let’s get to work and quit saying, “you know, we are an agricultural state,” when we could be so much more and have all the talent and ability to do so. The work ethics of individuals in smaller Western Kansas communities is such that makes this even more of a real possibility. Creating this industry so that those who are willing to participate can earn a living salary plus a bonus of shares in the company itself therefore creating their own future at home and build a strong Kansas Economy.
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