Leaders’ retreat brings regional economic concerns to the forefront


2019 Flint Hills Regional Leaders Retreat (courtesy photo)

OLATHE — Business and industry leaders gathered with area political leaders for a two-day conference held in Olathe Friday and Saturday to identify strengths and weaknesses impacting the Manhattan area workforce and economy.
One of those key aspects discussed during the Flint Hills Regional Leaders Retreat is the Tri-county Region Reimagined economic strategic plan. The plan involves Riley, Pottawatomie and Geary counties. As it looks ahead to new technology, and a growing number of retiring baby boomers in the workforce, a lot of the conversation is now aimed at attracting talent and retaining those employees in the region. Region Reimagined Program Director Christy Rodriguez says collaboration between the various communities is key.
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Rodriguez touted the event as a success as she prepares to translate the feedback from participants into a report that will be presented to the various area city and county leaders.
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Rodriguez says her next step will be sifting through all the data from the various breakout sessions.

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The two-day conference highlighted future economic trends including how the workforce will change for the next generation, who by some estimations could hold between seven to 10 careers in their lifetime.
Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lyle Butler says over 245 people attended the conference. One of the sessions involved a site selector providing his thoughts on the region’s economic outlook.
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Challenges facing the workforce include bridging a gap between the next generation of workers and the technology that will no doubt change the way jobs are performed and the needs of employers moving forward.

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With regard to an aging workforce as many baby boomers hit retirement age, Butler says there simply aren’t as many millennials to replace them.

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The workforce could look very different in 30 years, as artificial intelligence may replace some key jobs done by humans today. Butler says the potential is there with educational partners like Kansas State University and Manhattan Area Technical College. The key becomes doing more to retain and attract people to those schools and eventually into the Riley, Pottawatomie and Geary county workforce.


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Brandon Peoples

KMAN News Director and host of In Focus. Contact Brandon at Brandon@1350KMAN.com

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