Legislative & Policy Priorities
Each year, REAP establishes a legislative agenda advocating for state investments and encouraging strategic public policies to create jobs and grow the economy in South Central Kansas. The members of REAP focus on issues of common concern that drive the regional economy including transportation, water, energy and workforce development. REAP also hosts an annual Legislative and Policy Summit to engage state legislators and local government officials in the region. The Summit discusses items that may impact the upcoming legislative session.
Blueprint for Regional Economic Growth (BREG)
In October 2014 a group of stakeholders in the Wichita MSA joined together to participate in an industry cluster study, targeting the nine counties of REAP plus Marion County. The study focused on regional thinking, industry sectors, building input foundations from industries to local governments, and working across jurisdictions and sectors to build a strong and diversified regional economy. The study was completed in mid-2015 and is moved to an implementation phase.
South Central Kansas contains a number of industry sectors, some highly competitive and others just emerging. BREG has organized these eight sectors and defined specific action plans to increase their strengths. Regional business leaders, economic development professionals and leaders from across various support services have formed committees to advance the action plans of these eight sectors.
Since 2004, REAP has served as the grant recipient for Kansas Local Area IV Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds from the U. S. Department of Labor. The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas is the Operator and Administrator for these funds, which are overseen by the Chief Elected Officials Board (CEOB), housed within REAP. Wichita City Council Member Jeff Longwell is the Kansas Local Area IV Chief Elected Official, overseeing $3-$4 million annually in WIOA funds invested in South Central Kansas.
In August 2015, REAP initiated a regional transportation task force as part of its 2015 work plan. The taskforce is identifying and discussing issues of common concern in South Central Kansas including: identifying regional public transit strategies and monitoring state policies impacting public transit, and analyzing current regional transportation issues and coordinating with the state planning process. Membership from partners includes but is not limited to WAMPO, the Kansas Department of Transportation, Wichita Transit, and REAP member jurisdictions. The development of a formal structure for regional planning and coordination will be a primary goal in the REAP 2016 work plan. The taskforce will draw upon recent initiatives including the Regional Strategic Export Plan, the South Central Kansas Prosperity Plan, and BREG.
Regional Export Plan
In December 2013, of South Central Kansas region was selected to participate in the Brookings Global Cities Exchange (GCX) program to create a regional strategy to enhance exports. REAP is a key partner with Kansas Global Trade Services on this initiative. The goal of the regional export plan is to nurture an intentional export economy in South Central Kansas that accelerates job growth, diversifies exports and improves global competitiveness and fluency. The objectives of the plan are to catalyze export growth at five aviation suppliers per year, diversify exports by fostering growth of non-aerospace exports by 30 percent in five years and of services exports by 15 percent in five years, coordinate export assistance and promotional efforts to build a recognizable export eco-system in two years, increase global fluency of the region by educating community leaders and companies, increase exports of small-medium sized companies, increasing the number of new markets entered per year, and introducing exporting as a growth strategy to 100 companies in five years.
Brookings Global Cities Exchange Program (GCX)
The Wichita Region of South Central Kansas was selected to participate in the Brookings Global Cities Exchange (GCX) program after a competitive & extensive application process. Participation in the program will produce a data-driven Regional Export Plan with the guidance of the Brookings GCX team, JP Morgan Chase and the U.S. International Trade Administration. Seven other cities/regions were selected and form a peer group: Atlanta; Upstate South Carolina representing the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson CSA; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, FL; Milwaukee; Phoenix; and Sacramento, CA. The year-long planning process began in December 2013 with the convening of the newest eight cities/regions at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, and will culminate with the release of the Wichita Region’s Export Plan and Investment Strategy in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Why do we need a regional export plan? Exports equal jobs. The REAP Region of South Central Kansas must diversify its economy in order to grow. Significantly increasing the export of goods and services out of the country while adding new economic engines to its mainstay of aviation will help secure the region’s economic future.
Governor’s 50 Year Vision for the Future of Water in Kansas
At the Governor’s Water Conference in October 2013, Governor Brownback charged his administration to lead the vision and called upon the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors to engage in the planning process since water and the economy are directly linked. The vision will take the Kansas Water Plan to a new level, with more intense work and engagement with local governments, cities and counties, the groundwater management districts, water assurance districts, industry and stakeholders to develop this vision and area specific goals for ensuring a reliable water supply for Kansas citizens.
The Kansas Water Office (KWO) Visioning Team is seeking input from groups around the state. KWO is engaging REAP as a stakeholder group and a voice for municipal water through the REAP Water Resources Committee, REAP Board of Directors, REAP Regional Water Conference, and the Prosperity Plan Consortium Leadership Team. The Visioning Team will present a summary of the Vision for the Future of Water in Kansas at the Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas in October 2014.
South Central Kansas Prosperity Plan
Local jurisdictions in South-Central Kansas no longer compete just against each other for jobs and economic development. We are competing against others nationally and globally. To be economically competitive in a world marketplace, we must work together to identify a collective vision for our future and design a toolbox of strategies to achieve it. To that end, communities in South Central Kansas are embarking on a two-year process to develop a plan for prosperity for South Central Kansas that encompasses Butler, Harvey, Reno, Sedgwick and Sumner counties. The effort will focus on six key areas, including:
~Healthy Community Design
~Workforce and Business Development.
For more information about the South Central Kansas Prosperity Plan process, contact Paula Downs at 316-978-6678 or visit their website at http://www.thinktomorrowtoday.org/
Kansas Affordable Airfares Program (KAAP)
The region has been involved in the issue of affordable airfares since 1999 and the establishment of the Air Service Task Force. In 2001 REAP engaged the region by participating in the Travel Bank program to leverage the market for a single low-fare carrier. Although that program had some limited success it was apparent that a more comprehensive program would be needed. In 2006 REAP took the lead with the development of the Kansas Affordable Airfares Program (KAAP). From 2006 until December of 2012, REAP, as directed by the State of Kansas, administered the five-year, $25 million program, to provide more air flight options, more competition for air travel, and affordable air fares for Kansas. REAP continues to support KAAP and the legislation that created and funds the program.
Intrust Bank Arena
In 2004 Sedgwick County voters approved the Sedgwick County Arena Project, now known as the Intrust Bank Arena. The project funded construction of the Arena through a one percent sales tax in Sedgwick County beginning on July 1, 2005 for a period of 30 months. REAP supported the project through their 2004 legislative platform and priorities, bringing a world- class venue to the REAP region for concerts and sporting events.
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