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Grow Hays Announces the 2019 Board of Directors


Press Release

January 10, 2019



The Grow Hays recently appointed four new board members to serve in 2019.  The newly elected Board members are Brian DeWitt, Cory Eberle, Gina Riedel and Dustin Schumacher. 

Per Grow Hays Executive Director, Doug Williams, “When selecting Board members we attempt to choose individuals that have specific skills and experience in areas that are critical to Grow Hays in the coming year. This year’s selections reflect that objective.“ 

Karen Dreiling will serve as Board Chair, Eddie Herrman as Vice-Chair and Ron Fields as Past Chair.  Others rounding out the 13 member Board are Joannah Applequist, Lance Bickle, Joseph Boeckner, Mary Martin, Bob Muirhead and Deron O’Connor.

Whether you are starting a new business, expanding an existing business, adding to your workforce, need to find financing, or just do not know where to start on a problem, Grow Hays is here to assist. Give us a call to find out how we can assist you in your business success.


Doug Williams Named Executive Director



October 24th, 2018

For immediate Release

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Doug Williams has been hired as executive director of Grow Hays, after serving as interim director since May.

Williams is a lifelong entrepreneur and has been involved in a wide variety of business interests during his 30 year career. He spent the first 14 years of his career in the real estate business as a broker/owner of a RE/MAX franchise. During that time, Williams was involved in numerous real estate investment projects and gained considerable experience and knowledge in creatively structuring and financing transactions. He was 1985 Realtor Associate of the Year for the Hays Board of Realtors and the President of the Hays Board of Realtors in 1986.

In 1991, Williams founded System Solutions Inc., a company involved in the sale of IBM information systems. The company began with two employees and grew to 75 employees at the time it was sold to Rural Telephone Service in 1997. Williams then started InfiniTec, Inc. and Medical Business Resources. Infinitec, Inc., a computer software company, was the primary software provider for over 70 of the 105 county governments in Kansas. Infinitec, Inc. was sold to Wheatland Electric Cooperative in 1999. Medical Business Resources, a physicians billing service, was sold in 2003. In 2005, Williams re-entered the real estate business in Hays. He was the 2010 President of the Hays Board of Realtors and 2016 Hays Board of Realtors Realtor of the Year.

“Grow Hays is critically important to the long-term growth and prosperity of our community, and I know that the board of directors and I are committed to work toward making that happen any way we can,” Williams said.

Williams has attended advanced courses in the areas of entrepreneurship, business ownership, and salesmanship. These courses include The Wharton Business Schools Entrepreneurship Class, IBM Sales School, and the Owner-Presidents course at The Harvard Business School. In 1997, he was the first recipient of the Harley L. Rhoads Small Business Achievement Award presented by the Hays Chamber of Commerce.

“Since May, we have been grateful to Doug's efforts as our interim director, and we are increasingly excited about our future with someone of his stature at our helm,” said Ron Fields, board chairman. “He brings a level of experience with every aspect of the regional business community that is unmatched.”

“Grow Hays has reached an important transition point, and it is well-positioned to advance the economic expansion of this region,” he added. “Doug Williams brings a wealth of experience and long-established relationships to the organization.

Grow Hays is a nonprofit organization aimed at advancing the economic health and vitality of Hays and the surrounding communities. Long known for its efforts to promote a robust local economy through business creation, retention, expansion, and recruitment, Grow Hays has offered instrumental support toward numerous community successes. A few of those include the arrival of Hobby Lobby, a soon-to-be constructed convention center, development of innovative job training initiatives, and BriefSpace, a co-working space and business incubator that opened this summer in downtown Hays. Grow Hays also administers a housing redevelopment program and training programs designed to offer skilled-trade training to area workers.

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About Grow Hays

Now Grow Hays, the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development was founded in 1988, during a period in which the county experienced a downturn in the ag and oil industry, as well as the loss of a major employer.  Community leaders came together to create an organization that could put the community back on the right economic track.  The Ellis County Coalition (Grow Hays) was born.

Formed as a public/private partnership between Ellis County, the cities within Ellis County, the entity was funded in part by Ellis County, the cities of Hays, Ellis and Victoria and private contributions. Grow Hays focuses on one simple mission, the economic growth and being of the community.  To further this end, the Grow Hays works with the community and businesses in a number of areas: affordable housing development, workforce development and training, grant writing, relocation assistance, start-up assistance, business recruitment, and much more.

Grow Hays continues to develop and maintain strong relationships with local, state, and federal organizations in an effort to bring resources and support to businesses located in the community.  As your business succeeds, our community succeeds.  


Core Values:

An organization that exemplifies integrity, collaboration, commitment, communication, and, when necessary, confidentiality.


Core Purpose:

Catalyst for expansion of the economy of Ellis County and surrounding areas by focusing on employment growth and wealth creation.


Core Goals:

Successfully retain and expand existing business, recruit new businesses, and create and foster a spirit of entrepreneurism in Ellis County and the surrounding areas. 

Cooperative Partnering Philosophy:

Grow Hays is committed to advancing economic vitality and innovation to enhance the community and the quality of life for citizens of Ellis County and the surrounding area. To reach our goals, it will take a cooperative partnership between Ellis County, the cities within Ellis County, and Grow Hays. Grow Hays will develop partnerships at local, state, national, and international levels. These partnerships are built on a desire to improve the Ellis County area and the cooperative spirit among the citizens. There is an understanding that economic development and community development are results of continuous improvement that depends on teamwork, pride, and a sense of innovation.  Through the cooperative efforts of the entire community, we envision the future of Ellis County and the surrounding area to include:

  • Aggressive pursuit of employment growth.  This can be achieved through expansion of existing businesses as well as recruitment of targeted businesses and the commitment from the community to provide appropriate incentives and the infrastructure required to facilitate growth in both categories.  Focus should be on industries that emphasis technology, high speed connectivity, and higher wages.  The community will also encourage investments in downtown development, business parks, and investment properties.
  • Promotion of an outstanding quality of life.   Ellis County is fortunate to have elements critically important to our future growth and expansion: excellent schools, a top-rated university, a world renowned medical center, fantastic recreation, safe neighborhoods, rich history, unbelievable art and culture, fun-filled events, great shopping, friendly people, strong work ethic, and so much more.  These points make Ellis County a highly rated micropolitan area in which to live, learn, work and play.  Ellis County will be especially inviting to young people seeking jobs and a great place to raise a family, and be a community well suited for retirement.
  • Recognition as the regional center for Northwest Kansas.  Located on the major east/west corridor of Interstate 70 and supported by commercial air service, Ellis County will continue to strive to serve as the regional hub for employment, shopping, dining, medical, educational, and cultural needs.
  • Support of activities that stabilize population in neighboring counties. Grow Hays will participate in multi-county efforts to address common issues and opportunities.  Our resource partners in the region include banks, utility providers, other local/regional economic development organizations (such as wKREDA, Kansas Small Business Development Center, Northwest Planning & Development Commission), Network Kansas, Kansas Dept. of Commerce, and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.