PITTSBURG — Leaders from across Crawford County met Tuesday for the Crawford County Economic Summit at the Memorial Auditorium in Pittsburg.

The summit drew many organizations to present about a wide variety of topics.

Heather Morgan with Project 17 opened the presentations with information on the types of industries growing in the area, and the need for continued industrial diversity.

"Don't want all our eggs in the ag basket,” said Morgan. She explained that many areas of Crawford County are growing including manufacturing, advanced manufacturing, and food production.

Morgan also stressed the tradesmen needed to fill jobs those industries are creating.

“We hear over and over, we need more machinists, we need more CDL drivers,” Morgan said.

In fact the need for skilled tradesmen was a theme throughout the meeting.

One that CTech Executive Director, Kris Mengarelli, has been hearing a lot. During his presentation he revealed that he often receives calls for welders, but has to tell them all of his already have job placements.

“Every person on our list already has a job.” said Mengarelli.

CTech specializes in creating skilled workers, starting with youth at high school age as well as adults. They currently offer several skills-based opportunities include welding, carpentry, and are looking into offering more options based on local needs soon. High school students who complete training at CTech can graduate with college credit and a leg up in the job market.

“The problem with education is that it takes awhile to turn the boat. We want to be looking ahead so we can go ahead and step into that gap.” said Mengarelli.

The Pittsburg State Small Business Development Center was also on hand to explain their services, some of which are new or expanded. They recently began offering small businesses help with cyber security and social media, and have expanded their current business development services.

Executive Director, Randy Robinson, stressed that their services are not just for new businesses, but any small business that needs guidance.

“The fact that these services are useful, and they are free,” Robinson said. “So the price is right for a small business."

The summit also touched on what brings people to the county and the necessary things needed to encourage residents to stay.

Dick Horton, and Brad Stroud of Live Well Crawford County, spoke on the importance of quality of life improvements, and making careful decisions when considering which improvements to put in place.

“For a long time we focused on organized team sports facilities.” Horton said “We are now seeing a change in that, people want more nature areas and walking trails.”

Stroud stressed the importance of healthy living and the long term consequences to the community when health issues are not properly addressed. He spoke with concern about data which suggests nearly a quarter of all children in Crawford County suffer from food insecurity. He also stressed the importance to local employers that their employees be healthy and receiving quality food.

“How your brain performs at work is directly related to your diet,” Stroud said. “Employees that have good quality food function better at work and have less absences.”

 

Additional presentations from the Kansas Department of Commerce, the Girard Chamber of Commerce, as well as the City of Pittsburg rounded out the summit.

 

Crawford County Commissioner Jeff Murphy was pleased with the outcome.

 

“I believe that to achieve great things, you need great ideas. The best way to accomplish that is to have events like this,” Murphy said. “I really believe that all the people represented here today really want to work together for the good of Crawford County.