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.

EntityRepresentativeAppointing AuthorityTerm
Arkansas CityScott Rogers, alt. Randy FrazerCity of Arkansas CityNo Term Limit
RCB BankJohn Sturd, Gregg ConklinRCB BankNo Term Limit
Cowley CountyAlan GroomCowley CountyNo Term Limit
Cowley County Community CollegeDr. Dennis RittleCowley County Community CollegeNo Term Limit
Union State BankEric Kurtz, Cory HelmerUnion State BankNo Term Limit
WinfieldTaggart WallCity of WinfieldNo Term Limit
Strother FieldShawn McGrewStrother Field CommissionNo Term Limit
At-Large MemberMark PatonCoordinating CouncilAppointed
At-Large MemberCraig DuncanCoordinating CouncilAppointed

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.

EntityRepresentativeAppointing AuthorityTerm
Arkansas City ChamberPaisley HowertonArkansas City ChamberNo Term Limit
Southwestern CollegeDawn Pleas- alt. Dr. Brad AndrewsSouthwestern CollegeNo Term Limit
Cowley CollegeDr. Dennis RittleCowley CollegeNo Term Limit
USD 465Nathan ReedUSD 465No Term Limit
USD 470Ron BallardUSD 470No Term Limit
Rural-Eastern Cowley CountyChris BakerAdvisory Committee2 Yr Term through 12-31-2020
Rural-Northern Cowley CountySteve Brown Advisory Committee2 Yr Term through 12-31-2021
At-Large Industry/EntrepreneurMarla SexonAdvisory Committee2 Yr Term through 12-31-2021
At-Large General MemberGreg ThompsonAdvisory Committee2 Yr Term through 12-31-2022
At-Large General Member
Advisory Committee2 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 Kerri Falletti  for more information.

Our Business Partners 

Ark City IndustriesLegacy Regional Community Foundation
Columbia Elevator SolutionsRCB Bank
Community National BankNewell - Rubbermaid
Conco ConstructionWestern Industries
Cowley CollegeUnion State Bank
Creekstone Farms Premium BeefThe Stock Exchange Bank
Four County Mental Health and Counseling CenterJet AirWerks and Jet AirParts

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