Economic Development

Cowley First Location

Cowley First is at 311 E 9th, Winfield, KS.

Map to Cowley First

Cowley First

The Cowley County Economic Development Department, also referred to as Cowley First, is a unique partnership between Cowley County, City of Arkansas City and the City of Winfield.  Funded by the three government entities and a host of Cowley County Business Partners, Cowley First represents and serves the entire county. As one cohesive group, Cowley First focuses on economic and community development to drive the economy.

Through a combination of paid staff and collaborative efforts with participating member organizations maintain and coordinate the Cowley First program to foster and achieve the following:

  • To maintain a business climate conducive to the expansion and retention of existing businesses and industry within Cowley County.  Maintain regular contact with firms within the communities, industrial parks and county to determine if there are opportunities with which the program might assist.
  • To promote, support and encourage creative local entrepreneurship, business incubation & small business development efforts to stimulate the start up of new businesses and industrial enterprises in the county that will import wealth into the local economy. To work with local school districts, universities, & community leaders to create entrepreneurship education programs & to enhance the local entrepreneurship culture.
  • To work with program partners to strengthen the quality and quantity of the local workforce.
  • To undertake targeted business recruitment efforts and to provide information and coordinate site visits for firms that might wish to investigate Cowley County as a desirable location in which to locate a new business operation.  This activity will include:
    • responding to requests for assistance from the Kansas Department of Commerce as well as parties to this agreement
    • maintaining a high quality Cowley County Economic Development program website
    • developing, printing and distributing information pertinent to attracting new business and industrial firms to the county
    • providing a point of contact for phone calls, faxes, email, letters and personal visits relating to economic development
  • To encourage rural development through the expansion of tourism activities and initiatives in agritourism.
  • To assist community partners in their efforts to implement quality of life initiatives and efforts to enhance community appeal.
  • To work with program partners to formulate and execute strategic & long-range plans to enhance the economic viability and quality of life in Cowley County.

This countywide partnership is dedicated to assist in expansion and retention of existing businesses, support local entrepreneurs, attract new businesses and industries while utilizing Cowley County’s prominent business atmosphere, high quality of life, recreation and tourism opportunities and excellent education facilities.

Cowley First’s emphasis is business recruitment, expansion and retention projects.  Through Economic Development Cowley First strives to ensure there is an educated and talented labor pool for area businesses and industries for not just this generation, but for the next generation as well.

Community Development focuses on the improvement of quality of life which has a direct effect on businesses and their employees.  By addressing health care needs, educational and training gaps, and access to housing, the community is better served.

This partnership enables us to perform more effectively as we pursue our common goal of making our communities the best place to work, live and play.  Let us connect you with Cowley County and see why it is the right place for your business.



Benefits to Doing Business in Cowley County

  • Quality of Life
  • Skilled Labor
  • Lower Utility Costs
  • Lower Labor Costs
  • Central Location
  • Excellent Transportation
  • Lower Taxes

Coordinating Council

A nine member coordinating council made up of one representative selected by Arkansas City, CornerBank, Cowley County, Union State Bank, Cowley College, Strother Field Commission and Winfield respectively and two at-large members appointed by the other seven collective members shall act as an executive committee for the Cowley First: Cowley County Economic Development Partnership.

Entity Representative Appointing Authority Term
Arkansas City Karen Wlech, alt. Nick Hernandez City of Arkansas City No Term Limit
RCB Bank John Sturd, Greg Conklin RCB Bank No Term Limit
Cowley County Wayne Wilt Cowley County No Term Limit
Cowley County Community College Dr. Dennis Rittle Cowley County Community College No Term Limit
Union State Bank Eric Kurtz Union State Bank No Term Limit
Winfield Taggart Wall City of Winfield No Term Limit
Strother Field Shawn McGrew Strother Field Commission No Term Limit
At-Large Member Mark Paton Coordinating Council 2 Yr Term through 12-31-2018
At-Large Member Craig Duncan Coordinating Council 2 Yr Term through 12-31-2018

Economic Development Advisory Committee

To advise and assist the County in maintaining and coordinating the collaborative economic development program a Cowley County Economic Development Advisory Committee shall be appointed. The Advisory Committee shall consist of the members of the Coordinating Council and one representative selected by each participating member organization listed below.

Entity Representative Appointing Authority Term
Arkansas City Chamber Arkansas City Chamber No Term Limit
Ark City Industries Mark Paton Ark City Industries No Term Limit
Southwestern College Dawn Pleas- alt. Dr. Brad Andrews Southwestern College No Term Limit
Cowley College Dr. Dennis Rittle Cowley College No Term Limit
Strother Field Shawn McGrew Strother Field No Term Limit
Winfield Chamber Sarah Werner Winfield Chamber No Term Limit
Winfield Economic Development Craig Duncan Winfield Econ. Dev. No Term Limit
USD 465 Nathan Reed USD 465 No Term Limit
USD 470 Ron Ballard USD 470 No Term Limit
Rural-Eastern Cowley County Chris Baker Advisory Committee 2 Yr Term, through 12-31-2020
Rural-Northern Cowley County Steve Brown or Lulita Hopkins Advisory Committee 2 Yr Term through 12-31-2019
At-Large Industry/Entrepreneur Greg Thompson Advisory Committee 2 Yr Term through 12-31-2019
At-Large General Member Ken Capps Advisory Committee 2 Yr Term through 12-31-2019
At-Large General Member Harold ‘Doc’ Arnett Advisory Committee 2 Yr Term through 12-31-2020

Our Business Partners

Arkansas City Industries

Columbia Elevators

Community National Bank

Conco Construction

Cowley College

Creekstone Farms


Four County Mental Health

Galaxy Technologies

GE Aviation

Hospitality Management-Best Western

Husky Liners

Jet AirWerks


Legacy Foundation

Mahaney Roofing

Morton Buildings

RCB Bank



Silgan Dispensing

Southern Kansas Telephone

Southwestern College

Sumner-Cowley Electric Cooperative

The Stock Exchange Bank

Twin Rivers Developmental Support

Union State Bank

United Agency

Western Industries

Winfield Economic Development

Winfield Publishing Company


City of Winfield

City of Arkansas City

Cowley County