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Economic conference to focus on Kansas urbanization, policy decisions

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

LAWRENCE — As Kansas' urban counties have seen a rapid population growth in recent decades, the state has grappled with this major transformation.

Aside from an aging and shifting population, more recent policy developments, including a focus on fiscal austerity, have contributed to changes in the Kansas economy. Community leaders are seeking to address the infrastructure needs and strained delivery of services to rural Kansas as much of the area loses population.

Economists, educators and policymakers from across the state will examine the local and regional perspectives of these issues at the University of Kansas on Thursday, Oct. 13, at the annual Kansas Economic Policy Conference titled "Reimagining Kansas: Policy Implications Now and in the Future."

"This year's Kansas Economic Policy Conference features many of our best speakers from previous conferences," said Donna Ginther, professor of economics at KU. "Our goal is to look toward the future to understand how policy can respond to the accelerating population changes in the state as well as the implications of fiscal austerity for future economic growth."

The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Kansas Union and will conclude at 2:30 p.m. The Institute for Policy & Social Research at KU, a leading source on collecting economic and social data on the state and region, sponsors the annual event. Ginther serves as director of IPSR's Center for Science, Technology & Economic Policy.

The conference's full agenda is available online. Anyone interested is invited to register and attend. Also, the public can follow updates from the conference on Twitter via #kepc2016.

Jeremy Hill, director of the Center for Economic and Business Research at Wichita State University, and Chris Courtwright, principal economist of the Kansas Legislative Research Department, will open the conference with presentations on the potential long-term effects of the present demographic trends and fiscal policies.

A conversation about delivering services in an urbanizing Kansas and current and future state policy will follow. Featured speakers including Randall Allen, executive director of the Kansas Association of Counties; Thomas L. Bell, president and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association; and, Sally Cauble, a Kansas State Board of Education member from Dodge City; Rep. Don Hill, Kansas House District 60, Emporia; and, Rep. Tom Moxley, Kansas House District 68, Council Grove.

The conference will conclude with a luncheon panel on moving beyond perceptions of a zero-sum game in rural versus urban Kansas. Panels will be Josh Svaty, an Ellsworth County farmer and former Kansas Secretary of Agriculture, and Frank Lenk, director of research services for the Mid-America Regional Council in Kansas City. Reggie Robinson, professor and director of the KU School of Public Affairs & Administration will moderate the panel.

Registration for the conference is $65 at the conference website and includes lunch. A live online stream will be available at no cost for people located in portions of central and western Kansas. Free registration for online access is also available at the website.

The KU Office of the Provost is a co-sponsor of the conference.