Dodge City/Ford County - Where Business and Pleasure Grow Together

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dodge City and Ford County is truly a great place to raise a family, and start (or expand) a business.  Dodge City & Ford County give residents that coveted “small-town feel,” while offering large-city amenities like access to events held at the Western State Bank Expo or a fun day at the Long Branch Lagoon Waterpark. They also have a very progressive and student-focused school district, making this an excellent area for young families. On the weekend, locals are known to take in a concert or comedy show at United Wireless Arena, go to a movie (drive-in or theater) or go bowling with the family. Other popular activities include taking the family to the Dodge City Raceway park or the Boot Hill Museum for a tour, followed by a cold Sarsaparilla or a banana split. For adult fun, locals known to head to the top of the hill north of the Boot Hill Museum. Here, sits the Boot Hill Distillery, and at the bottom sits the Dodge City Brewery. Locals like to refer to this area as “Booze Hill.”

While there is a lot of fun to be had in Dodge City, this is an excellent place to locate a business as well. In fact, there are many business programs and incentives that are rarely found in communities of this size. Anyone looking for more information or wishing to schedule a tour should contact the Dodge City/Ford County Development Corporation. In the meantime, here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions about Dodge City/Ford County, Kansas.

Q:    Who spearheads economic development initiatives in the county?

A:     The Dodge City/Ford County Development Corporation. Our goal is to continue to foster a prosperous environment for both our current and incoming business owners and members of the community. We continue to work to bring new business growth to Ford County, while also helping current businesses with retention and expansion efforts.

Q:     What is the entrepreneurial culture like in Dodge City and Ford County?

A:      Here in Dodge City, we understand that success breeds success, and that we have to invest in ourselves if we want others to invest in our community. Dodge City is home to some national and international businesses, including Roto-Mix, Servi-Tech, Broce Broom, and Pos-T-Vac. We work diligently to foster an atmosphere in which entrepreneurs are offered continual encouragement and support, and provided assistance however needed.

Q:    What type of assistance, incentives or support do you offer to entrepreneurs and established businesses?

A:     Our Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Coordinator meets with current and future business owners. They can receive help cultivating business plans, gathering financials, applying for loans (if necessary) and any required licensing or permits, and a multitude of other benefits.  The Center provides free and confidential professional management assistance, training, business information and resource referrals to both existing and potential business owners.

The purpose of the Dodge City/Ford County E-Community Program is to encourage entrepreneurial small business development and retention in the Dodge City/Ford County community. Startup businesses, those purchasing an existing business, or existing businesses desiring to invest in expansion may apply for funding of up to $75,000.

Two types of funding are offered from our local fund: grants and low-interest loans. Grants are reserved for those projects determined to have the greatest weighted cumulative score on our rubric and require a 3 to 1 match of funds. Low-interest loans are the more common funding mechanism and require a 40% match from a public sector resource that is a NetWork Kansas partner or a financial institution.

We also offer City & County Revolving Loan funds. Dodge City, Spearville, and Ford County have special economic development loan funds. These are competitive loan applications. The amount of money available to loan at any given time depends on the balance in the funds at the time of application.

Q:     What is happening with the youth in the community?

A:     To accommodate our rapidly-growing student population, our community recently passed an $85.6 million bond, which will provide structural additions to every school in USD 443. Annually, we partner with NetWork Kansas to facilitate a Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (YEC) in which students ages -12 can put a business plan together and present it to a panel of judges. The top three winners from this competition are given cash prizes. Also, many entities around the county offer scholarships or internship opportunities.

Q:    What new or exciting initiatives and programs are you working on?

A:     While southwest Kansas is a great place to live, work, and play, the culture of many in the community requires young adults to remain local, and to enter the workforce to aid the family after graduating from high school. This reduces the number of students with degrees in our community solely due to the inability to relocate to attend a 4-year university.

We are currently working on an program to bring 4-year degrees to our region. With a location in Dodge City already available, we are working with multiple state public and private universities to make these opportunities available to our citizens - right here in Dodge City.

Q:    What is the history of Dodge City and Ford County, Kansas?

A:     First established in 1867 as part of a Legislative Act to organize the Western regions of Kansas, the area that became Ford County was already a pivotal location in Western geography. The flow of the Arkansas River provided a navigable highway through the area and offered one of the few water sources in an otherwise dry plain. Inspired by the Zebulon Pike expedition, some of the first white travelers through what would become Ford County were the Robert McKnight expedition of 1812. By 1821, a trade route was being established with Santa Fe in what was then part of Mexico and until the arrival of the AT&SF Railroad, the Santa Fe Trail was the greatest economic highway in the United States. Then, in 1865, with military resources being freed up after the Civil War, Fort Dodge was established to protect traffic along the Trail. Colonel James H Ford, instrumental in the construction of Fort Dodge, was the namesake for Ford Country which was drawn up around the military post. Fort Dodge quickly became a supply post for freighters and buffalo hunters and gained a nationwide reputation as “The Gateway to the Southwest.”

In 1872, Dodge City was established to provide services that the military officially denied such as alcohol, gambling and other forms of vice. Dodge grew rapidly and garnered its own reputation as the “Wickedest Little City in America.” The increasing population made it necessary for Ford County to be officially organized, which occurred on April 5, 1873 by proclamation by Governor Thomas Osborn. Charles Bassett was appointed the first Sheriff and in June of that year the other County Officers and the first County Commissioners were elected. By 1875, Texas longhorn cattle were being driven north to the rails in Dodge City, and cattle ranches began to dominate the Ford County landscape. Over the years, Ford County saw the rise of many future legends of the American West, as the likes of Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Luke Short, Bill Tilghman and others all maintained a very significant presence. Today, Ford County maintains its roots in the thriving cattle economy and embraces its place among the western legends.

Q:    Where can I go for more information?

A:     For more information visit http://www.dodgedev.org/

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