TOPEKA – Sumner County, Kansas, is seeing a significant rise in economic activity, thanks in large part to a land donation made to Cowley County Community College two years ago.
Marjorie Short, owner of Short Land Company, LLC, donated 18 acres to the college in 2016. The new land hosts the college’s brand new Sumner Campus. A new General Educational Center was built atop the new land, called the Short Education Center, after Marjorie and her family.
In addition, the campus sports agricultural and computer science programs, as well as a nursing program.
“I am extremely happy to be able to do this for the city of Wellington and the county of Sumner,” Short said in her public remarks during the announcement of the donation. “Education has always been very important to us, it didn’t take long to decide this was what we wanted to do when it was presented to us.”
These donations led to the campus being far more competitive in Kansas higher-education, and, perhaps even more-so, the donations have strengthened the economy of the community in the years following.
In February of this year, Executive Director of Sumner County Economic Development Stacy Davis told the Board of Cowley College that a new company was looking to bring as many as 150 new jobs to the community. The new campus additions were a major part of the company’s decision.
“Initially they were only bringing their manufacturing side,” Davis said. “Now, because we have the IT program with the campus, they are going to bring in their IT side.”
The effect of bringing new businesses to Sumner county has led to a major boost in the local economy, with new retail locations opening across the county.
“If you look overall, nationwide, communities that have technical colleges or community colleges tend to have a stronger workforce,” Davis said. “They tend to be much more successful in recruiting not only businesses, but also retail, and we’re experiencing that.”
The city of Wellington is in the process of opening new stores, including a new bank expansion and a new strip mall, and a brand-new Dollar Tree directly across from the Cowley campus. According to Davis, the reasons for Sumner county’s success are not difficult to see.
“I believe it has a great deal to do with the Cowley campus expansion,” she said. “Because of the college being here, we’re being looked at in a different light. It makes us a lot more marketable.”
According to Davis, the community expects to see even more success in the future, and they’re eager for it.
“Sumner county is open for business,” Davis said. “We welcome any industry and we have a very forward-thinking group of individuals in this community that would welcome any opportunity they could be a part of.”
The ribbon cutting ceremony for Cowley County Sumner Campus took place in August, and classes are in their first semester now.