Carolyn Caine
Institute for Policy & Social Research

Kansas Economic Policy Conference to offer multiple perspectives on economic development

Mon, 10/14/2019

LAWRENCE — What are the factors that contribute to economic development? Can policy play a role in promoting economic growth? These questions will be discussed in this year’s Kansas Economic Policy Conference, hosted by the Institute for Policy & Social Research on Oct. 24. The conference will convene scholars, policymakers and experts in economic development to explore “What Counts for Economic Development in Kansas?” Presentations and discussions at the conference will offer a multifaceted view of this complex and critically important subject.

“During the past decade, Kansas population and economic growth have trailed national averages,” said Donna Ginther, interim director of the Institute for Policy & Social Research. “Our panelists include academics, business leaders and policymakers who will discuss the economic and policy conditions that will put Kansas on the road to sustained growth and development.”

The morning keynote speakers, Professor Matthew Sanderson from Kansas State University and Secretary David Toland of the Kansas Department of Commerce, will address Kansas population trends and Kansas economic development. Over the past several years, the population in most regions of Kansas has declined. And while the U.S. economy has grown in every quarter since 2009, with the country seeing its lowest unemployment rate in decades, the Kansas labor force has shrunk and payroll employment has grown at half the U.S. rate.

Later in the morning, Jim McLean, director of the Kansas News Service, and Deb Miller, director of the KU Public Management Center, will moderate conversations among experts. In the first conversation, leaders in education and family-friendly policymaking will discuss Cultivating a Kansas Workforce. In the second conversation, experts in economic development and entrepreneurship will address Sustaining Communities and Industries, discussing how Kansas can attract, retain and expand new businesses in urban and rural contexts.

After lunch, State Sen. Julia Lynn, State Rep. Don Hineman, State Rep. Jason Probst and Secretary David Toland of the Kansas Department of Commerce will discuss the types of state policies that can spur economic development. Through this conversation, conference participants will see connections among the context and best practices discussed throughout the morning with the processes of crafting and implementing policy. The conference will conclude with remarks from Ginther, KU professor of economics.

“Kansas faces many economic development challenges,” Ginther said. “It’s important for policymakers and thought leaders to discuss these challenges and learn from academics and industry leaders about how Kansas can retain, attract and grow its population and economy.”

Registration for the conference is required, and participants are encouraged to register prior to the conference. A livestream of the conference is available for those individuals who are unable to attend the conference in person. Visit for full program information and registration.

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