State Sen. Dick Kelsey said Tuesday that if he is elected to Congress, he’ll devote a full staff position to assisting 4th District communities, especially smaller ones, develop their economies and create jobs.
Kelsey also said he would develop a clearinghouse to try to match businesses with available real estate across the district.
Kelsey, R-Goddard, said the idea is to assist communities that can’t afford an economic development director to market them on a large scale.
“These city councils, particularly in the small towns, don’t have the resources to do this,” he said.
Kelsey outlined his plan during a pair of Tuesday morning seminars he held featuring Bob McEwen, a former Ohio congressman who is now chairman of Renewing American Leadership, a group started by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to strengthen ties between social and financial conservatives.
McEwen’s speeches leaned heavily on the anti-tax, pro-business themes that drive fiscal conservatives to the polls, while at the same time arguing passionately for Christian symbols on public property and biblical principles in government, issue dear to social conservatives.
Kelsey credited McEwen with coaching him on economic development strategy, which was a specialty of McEwen’s when he was in Congress.
In an effort similar to what Kelsey is proposing, McEwen said he had a clearinghouse through his office to help small towns acquire federal surplus property, such as firetrucks and boats, at very low costs.
He said having a congressional office attached to the effort helped it succeed.
“A congressman who wants to do things can do a lot,” he said.
As an example of Kelsey’s economic plan, Peter M. Machutta 1st, president of Power Plus Technology’s, explained how business sense and faith combined to help him start a business in the midst of economic downturn last year.
Machutta said Kelsey helped him find a building in Haysville for his business, which rebuilds transmissions and equipment for the federal government.
But while he had ironclad contracts, the payments hadn’t started yet and he didn’t have the $2,200 for a deposit on the building, Machutta said.
But he said he had organized the business “with the purpose of building God’s kingdom” and, against his lawyer’s advice, wrote a requirement of tithing into its articles of incorporation.
And just before he lost the building, a member of his church called and said “I’m supposed to write you a check for $2,200, that’s what I need to do,” Machutta said. He said he still doesn’t know how the man found out about his need.
Kelsey said it’s the kind of story he wants to see repeated throughout the district.
“People made some things happen quickly and it worked,” Kelsey said. “Now within months, there’s going to be 40 to 50 jobs in the city of Haysville.”
Kelsey is a candidate in a crowded Republican primary for the 4th District seat being vacated by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard.
His opponents are fellow state Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita; oilman, restaurateur and indoor football team owner Wink Hartman; small-business owner Jim Anderson and Republican National Committeeman Mike Pompeo.
Democrats who have announced in the race are Rep. Raj Goyle, D-Wichita, and retired court services officer Robert Tillman.