Business Q & A

Five questions with Troy Carlson

Troy Carlson grew up as a western Kansas farm boy.

But when he grew up, his focus shifted from the farm to some of the state's highest-profile business development projects.

Today, Carlson is one of the state's biggest champions of regionalization — the idea that successful business development benefits a region, not just the community where the business lands.

"Working on my uncle's farm taught me the value of hard work, and I later worked in feedlots in high school and college," Carlson said.

He graduated from Dodge City High School in 1978 and Wichita State University in 1982.

Today, he's one of the leaders behind Newton's Kansas Logistics Park, the latest in a list of resume credits that includes work on Fair Fares, Kansas City Construction Partners, the Kansas Bioscience Authority and one of the state's largest anti-terrorism exercises.

What excites you about your business development work?

"In order to be effective at business development, you have to begin with a vision of what you are trying to achieve. It is no different from building something such as a building, a car, a community or an organization.

"The challenge of business development is to effectively communicate the goal in mind to others so they understand that same vision. Once that happens, people become your advocate, and that is when things start happening."

How did business development become your career?

"The best explanation... is it gave me the ability to interact with a wide variety of people. You never get bored.

"There are so many different personalities and perspectives in this world. Having the ability to understand them is a great way to learn and understand the 'why' things work they do. Once you understand that, that is when you can effectively build something."

What linked you with the city of Newton and wind energy?

"I worked with Mickey Fornaro-Dean, executive director of the Harvey County Economic Development Council, on the Fair Fares campaign back in 1999 and 2000. We became well acquainted, and she brought me in about three years ago to do an assessment of their regional assets to leverage transportation dollars for KDOT's upcoming 10-year transportation plan.

"From that assessment, we discovered the huge potential Newton had with rail, highway and land assets. Living in Kansas City and seeing how they were thriving with building intermodal facilities, it was clear to see that Newton and Harvey County could do the same thing."

What's the economic development potential for Newton and Harvey County?

"Huge. Wind is not the only industry that can be served by the Kansas Logistics Park.

"With the upcoming expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014, our national trade routes are going to shift from east to west to north and south from El Paso, Texas, to Ontario, Canada. This presents a huge opportunity for all of us living along the I-35 corridor.

"People think China is the largest manufacturer in the world, but that is not correct. We are. The need to get those goods and products efficiently to and from their destinations is critical for our global competitiveness.

"You can do the math and see that the potential for Kansas Logistics Park is huge."

What's the future of wind energy in Kansas?

"Very bright. Kansas is ranked second in the country for wind energy potential, but we have a long way to go.

"Kansas could generate (enough) electricity each year which represents nearly all the electricity generated from coal, natural gas and nuclear combined in the United States in 2008. This electricity could be worth $340 billion per year."