Kansas’ road to economic recovery does not run through Topeka. Rather it runs through Goodland, Great Bend, Wichita, Emporia, Prairie Village and all communities across our state.


We do not need a one-size-fits-all plan for our economic recovery and we should not have it run top down by the state. Just as reopening our state has needed to balance how Kansas is made up of a variety of communities, our recovery needs to do the same. What’s best for Wichita is not what’s best for Syracuse and what’s best in Syracuse is not what’s best for Leawood.


Our state’s recovery should be a collaborative effort between the state, counties and cities. It needs be to a collaborative effort between the public and private sector. We need to have all sides at the table, we need to be sure that we are balancing all needs. We do not need any one person or committee in Topeka acting alone.


Kansas has waited for weeks for any word from Gov. Laura Kelly and her administration about the organizational steps she would be taking about our state’s economic recovery. While other governors — from both parties — moved ahead with forming teams and outlining plans, Kansas waited and waited. Then when we got information, it came in a slow drip. A recovery director one week, an outline of a committee structure the next and then finally the committee members were unveiled. Hopefully, the actual recovery plan doesn’t take as long.


While members of the Legislature have been included on the governor’s recovery team, the Legislature needs to have their own panel working on the recovery, since the recovery will be the defining issue of 2020. It is clear that all recovery panels need to host hearings and conferences — virtually if needed — to bring in all voices from across our state.


The most important voice of all should be the ones of the ground. The voices of our communities, those who know the needs of their communities and what can grow and thrive. At the end of the day this will help us grow regional plans for our state’s recovery.


We also need to make sure that we do not pretend to listen to local leaders and then ignore them and craft a one-size-fits-all strategy. Any strategy should have statewide components and in-depth regional pieces.


Other states have long incorporated local voices in setting economic strategy. Florida law has counties and cities send annual economic development reports to the state that include what business is there, local requests and the economic outlook. These reports bring local voices to the table and allow statewide strategy to be reflective of local needs. In New York, the lieutenant governor chairs a series of regional economic councils, comprised of local leaders and business owners. These councils craft regional economic strategies for the state.


Kansas is not a one-size-fits-all state. Wichita is looking to grow aviation and diversify the economy, while the Kansas City metro has technology growth. Our rural communities are focused on agriculture and energy, but also need 5G to grow small business. Tourism impacts the whole state, but why someone would want to visit Pittsburg is different from Wilson.


Topeka does not know best and should not think this way. For our state to have a true — and speedy recovery — it is clear local voices need to be involved and that Topeka should not stand in their way.


Wink Hartman is the CEO of the Hartman Group of Companies in Wichita and the 2018 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.