A little over a week ago, we learned that Sedgwick County is a finalist for the Tyson Foods project along with two other Kansas counties. We’re in the beginning stages of gathering information and the start of what will be an extensive community conversation and robust public input.
It’s important to remember that this is the start of the process of learning more so we can make an informed decision. This is now the time of due diligence both for us and Tyson, which is seeking to determine if this is where it would like to put its first new facility in 20 years.
We realize there are many opinions about this project – both for and against having it in our area. As we learn more about this project and its needs, our hope is that people will keep an open mind as we gather both information and questions. We look forward to the opportunity to welcome community input very soon as we all learn more about what this potential project means for Wichita and Sedgwick County.
One of the reasons we wanted to be on the finalist list to explore this opportunity is the prospect of 1,600 jobs. There are many unemployed people in this region plus some working part-time who might prefer full-time work with benefits. Another reason we wanted to explore was on behalf of our agricultural community and the potential economic impact for farmers who would participate as growers for Tyson.
Additionally, we are aware of community concerns relating to animal welfare and environmental issues in regards to this facility. Our intent is to thoroughly research and carefully consider each concern.
As the elected officials, our focus will be on gathering public input and understanding the issues to make an informed decision. Meanwhile, we have charged the Greater Wichita Partnership to lead the project parameter effort and bring forward a full understanding of what the project would require so we and the community have a full understanding of resources required and potential benefits.
There is a lot of detail and information to gather and then discuss. We want to demonstrate to our community, as well as to potential businesses, that we will move quickly and thoughtfully. We look forward to learning more and hearing from you.
Dave Unruh is Chairman of the Sedgwick County Commission.