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Press Release



November 9, 2016


Sumner County voters make history with "Yes" vote on a Cowley College Campus


Yes vote on a Cowley College CampusOn November 8, Sumner County voters made history by approving the passage of a half-cent county sales tax to build a Cowley College campus in Sumner County and to provide educational services for citizens of Sumner County. The campus will be constructed in Wellington with a goal to begin offering classes in Fall of 2018.

“This historical vote signifies the start of a new era of access to quality and affordable higher education and workforce training in the heart of Sumner County which will permeate throughout all of south central Kansas,” declared Dr. Dennis C. Rittle, President of Cowley College. “The campus will offer transfer degrees as well as high-wage and high-skilled technical programs of study in the areas of agriculture, manufacturing, education, computer science, police science, and first-responders.”

This successful 16-month collaborative journey would not have been possible without the efforts and leadership of Stacy Davis, Executive Director of Sumner County Economic Development, Annarose White, Executive Director of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, and Jessica Lucas, Campaign Champion and Strategist.

White said this is a huge opportunity for Wellington and Sumner County.

“The town of Wellington turns 150 in February and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than to have a College in Wellington to serve Sumner County,” White said. “This is a game changer for the quality of life of our citizens and businesses.”

Sumner County voters make historyAgriculture, manufacturing, computer science, first-responders and education programs will be offered at the Wellington campus

“Cowley College employees, students, and the Board of Trustees, as well as county and state dignitaries, industry leaders, educators, and Sumner County dignitaries stood shoulder-to-shoulder and arm-in-arm to make this vision become a soon-to-be reality” Rittle reflected.

Brad Klinge, Kansas commerce deputy secretary of Workforce Services, shared, “This partnership is a model that could be replicated across the state.” Klinge added, “It will provide the area with a workforce that can achieve its overwhelming potential and will allow fantastic communities like Sumner County to keep their best and brightest.”

Susan Johnson, human resources manager for GKN Aerospace Precision Machining in Wellington, KS, was among the many that attended Tuesday’s election night watch party at the Sumner County Economic Development Commission in Wellington.

Speaking to those at the watch party, Johnson said GKN Aerospace, Tect Aerospace, and Triumph Accessory Services, want to stay in Sumner County and a yes vote for a Cowley College campus in Sumner County helps assure that those businesses will continue to thrive and prosper thanks to a trained and skilled workforce.

Retired Wellington resident Lindal Nelson also attended the watch party and said Wellington has been a great place to live and work.
“I am excited for the future of Wellington,” Nelson said. “This will help keep the town and county going.”

Stacy Davis, Executive Director of Sumner County Economic Development, said in economic development it is important to remember that not only is recruiting new business important, but so is business retention.

“In determining the needs for retaining these companies, it was discovered the severe demand for a community college to partner with local companies,” Davis said. “This partnership facilitates educational gaps needed to fill opportunities for retaining these businesses and eventually expanding some of them. It also creates a skilled and qualified workforce that will be afforded a different lifestyle.”
For Sumner County, the partnership between Cowley College and these manufacturers will also open avenues for other industries to grow.

“I am thrilled the residents of Sumner County see the value in education and voted to partner with Cowley College,” Davis said. “We have set up Sumner County to grow in a manner it has not seen in years.”