MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Flint Hills Regional Leaders Retreat brought together the Manhattan, Wamego, and Junction City Chambers of Commerce, as well as prominent figures from the three local counties to discuss a variety of regional issues.
Junction City Manager Allen Dinkel said the key topic was Fort Riley. "Major General Sims did a great job talking about Fort Riley and things they do with readiness for the soldiers, and it was also very important that he addressed the mental health of the soldiers as well."
Dinkel and several other retreat attendees all agreed on the importance of Fort Riley to the region, and just how much of a key resource it, and the soldiers are to each community.
"I think we can't take it for granted," said Dinkel. "We have to continue to work and push to keep Fort Riley where it's at. Fort Riley is important to all of our communities."
Another important aspect of the day's discussions included Kansas State University, both for student involvement and student retention post graduation.
"We challenge people to come up with big ideas and we will come back tomorrow and pick two or three to really delve into a little deeper," said Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jason Smith. "We were very pleased with the amount of participation and engagement that we had today."
The event spans a day and a half annual; however, it normally takes place in February, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the event was pushed back later in 2021 to make sure the event could be held in person.
"It doesn't happen often," said Smith about the communities uniting in one room for a brainstorming session. "We don't get a chance to come together very often to talk about big issues, but economies don't have boundaries. So, what happens in one regional city impacts another regional city and we can't make these decisions and have these conversations in a vacuum, so let's try to figure out collectively what we can do increase economic opportunity for all."
The Flint Hills Regional Leaders retreat wraps up Friday morning after a half-day session from the Manhattan Hilton Garden Inn.