Cowley First

The Cowley County Economic Development Department, also referred to as Cowley First, is a unique partnership between Cowley County, City of Arkansas City and the City of Winfield.  Funded by the three government entities and a host of Cowley County Business Partners, Cowley First represents and serves the entire county. As one cohesive group, Cowley First focuses on economic and community development to drive the economy.

Through a combination of paid staff and collaborative efforts with participating member organizations maintain and coordinate the Cowley First program to foster and achieve the following:

  • To maintain a business climate conducive to the expansion and retention of existing businesses and industry within Cowley County.  Maintain regular contact with firms within the communities, industrial parks and county to determine if there are opportunities with which the program might assist.
  • To promote, support and encourage creative local entrepreneurship, business incubation & small business development efforts to stimulate the start up of new businesses and industrial enterprises in the county that will import wealth into the local economy. To work with local school districts, universities, & community leaders to create entrepreneurship education programs & to enhance the local entrepreneurship culture.
  • To work with program partners to strengthen the quality and quantity of the local workforce.
  • To undertake targeted business recruitment efforts and to provide information and coordinate site visits for firms that might wish to investigate Cowley County as a desirable location in which to locate a new business operation.  This activity will include:
  • responding to requests for assistance from the Kansas Department of Commerce as well as parties to this agreement
  • maintaining a high quality Cowley County Economic Development program website
  • developing, printing and distributing information pertinent to attracting new business and industrial firms to the county
  • providing a point of contact for phone calls, faxes, email, letters and personal visits relating to economic development
  • To encourage rural development through the expansion of tourism activities and initiatives in agritourism.
  • To assist community partners in their efforts to implement quality of life initiatives and efforts to enhance community appeal.
  • To work with program partners to formulate and execute strategic & long-range plans to enhance the economic viability and quality of life in Cowley County.
  • This countywide partnership is dedicated to assist in expansion and retention of existing businesses, support local entrepreneurs, attract new businesses and industries while utilizing Cowley County’s prominent business atmosphere, high quality of life, recreation and tourism opportunities and excellent education facilities.
  • Cowley First’s emphasis is business recruitment, expansion and retention projects.  Through Economic Development Cowley First strives to ensure there is an educated and talented labor pool for area businesses and industries for not just this generation, but for the next generation as well.

Community Development focuses on the improvement of quality of life which has a direct effect on businesses and their employees.  By addressing health care needs, educational and training gaps, and access to housing, the community is better served.

This partnership enables us to perform more effectively as we pursue our common goal of making our communities the best place to work, live and play.  Let us connect you with Cowley County and see why it is the right place for your business.

Benefits to Doing Business in Cowley County

  • Quality of Life
  • Skilled Labor
  • Lower Utility Costs
  • Lower Labor Costs
  • Central Location
  • Excellent Transportation
  • Lower Taxes

Coordinating Council

A nine member coordinating council made up of one representative selected by Arkansas City, RCB Bank, Cowley County, Union State Bank, Cowley College, Strother Field Commission and Winfield respectively and two at-large members appointed by the other seven collective members shall act as an executive committee for the Cowley First: Cowley County Economic Development Partnership.

Entity Representative Board Position Appointing Authority Term
Winfield Taggart Wall Chairman City of Winfield No Term Limit
Cowley County Community College Michelle Schoon Vice Chairman Cowley County Community College No Term Limit
Arkansas City Kanyon Gingher, alt. Randy Frazer Board Member City of Arkansas City No Term Limit
RCB Bank John Sturd, Gregg Conklin Board Member RCB Bank No Term Limit
Cowley County Lucas Goff Board Member Cowley County No Term Limit
Union State Bank Eric Kurtz alt, Cory Helmer Board Member Union State Bank No Term Limit
Strother Field Shawn McGrew Board Member Strother Field Commission No Term Limit
At-Large Member Elizabeth Frombgen At Large Member Coordinating Council Appointed
At-Large Member Donna Jackson At Large Member Coordinating Council Appointed

Economic Development Advisory Committee

To advise and assist the County in maintaining and coordinating the collaborative economic development program a Cowley County Economic Development Advisory Committee shall be appointed. The Advisory Committee shall consist of the members of the Coordinating Council and one representative selected by each participating member organization listed below.

Entity Representative Appointing Authority Term
Arkansas City Chamber Arty Hicks Arkansas City Chamber No Term Limit
Southwestern College Elizabeth Frombgen Southwestern College No Term Limit
Cowley College Michelle Schoon Cowley College No Term Limit
USD 465 Nathan Reed USD 465 No Term Limit
USD 470 Ron Ballard USD 470 No Term Limit
Rural-Eastern Cowley County Chris Baker Advisory Committee 2 Yr Term through 12-31-2020
Rural-Northern Cowley County Steve Brown  Advisory Committee 2 Yr Term through 12-31-2021
At-Large Industry/Entrepreneur Advisory Committee 2 Yr Term 
At-Large General Member Greg Thompson Advisory Committee 2 Yr Term through 12-31-2022
At-Large General Member Advisory Committee 2 Yr Term through 12-31-2022

Cowley First Business Partners 

Cowley First is uniquely formed with four different funding sources; Cowley County, City of Arkansas City, City of Winfield and County Business Partners.  As the chief responsibility of Cowley First is to guide area businesses and industries through retention and expansion assistance, incentive programs, training opportunities, workforce recruitment, community marketing and building relationships with the local employers; it is only natural for local businesses and industries to invest in the success of Cowley First. Cowley First Business Partners is a diverse group of leading employers including local financial institutes, manufacturers, non-profit organizations, rural enterprises, and educational institutions. The Business Partners not only benefit from the services provided by Cowley First, Business Partners meet quarterly to discuss common issues and work together to find resolutions.  Business Partners are currently strategizing how to effectively market Cowley County in their quest to recruit workforce to the area and is working directly with Cowley College to address the training needs of local industries. Any Cowley County Business is welcomed to be a funding partner of Cowley First and is welcome to contact Director Jessica Falk  for more information.

Our Business Partners 

Ark City Industries Legacy Regional Community Foundation
Columbia Elevator Solutions RCB Bank
Community National Bank Newell - Rubbermaid
Conco Construction Western Industries
Cowley College Union State Bank
Creekstone Farms Premium Beef The Stock Exchange Bank
Four County Mental Health and Counseling Center Jet AirWerks and Jet AirParts

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