Pictured in front of the Atchison County Booth at Great Northwest Day are front row: Commissioner Jim and Regina Quimby, Ginny Vernon, Carol Clark, and Rep. Allen Andrews. Back row: Monica Bailey, Sen. Dan Hegeman, Crystal Woodring and AtCo. Sheriff Dennis Martin. (Submitted photo)

Great Northwest Day at the Capitol 2017 drew more than 300 area constituents together to showcase the region in Jefferson City on January 31 and February 1. Nineteen counties, multiple communities and representatives from business, education, healthcare and government came together to discuss issues that are critical to the region. This year’s priorities focused on creation of a rural policy office, investment in infrastructure, to include broadband, transportation, water and wastewater, and investment in education, including both PreK-12 and higher education.
Atchison County attendees visited with Senator Dan Hegeman and Representative Allen Andrews at the Capitol on Tuesday morning, then met up with the rest of the Great Northwest delegation for an introduction on the House floor. The luncheon that day marked the official beginning of GNW Day. Pat Dillon, 2017 Great Northwest Day Chair, welcomed the group and invited AC Sheriff Dennis Martin to lead the group in the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem. Pat Curry, project manager for University of Missouri Extension’s Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development (ExCEED) program, provided information on the economic conditions of northwest Missouri, population loss within the region, and relevant changes in jobs and wages after the most recent recession ending in 2011.
After a quick group picture, roundtable presentations were held to inform participants about beneficial programs available within the region. ACDC Director Monica Bailey, member of the GNW Day Steering Committee, coordinated this session, which was kicked off by Dillon, who gave an overview of the GNW Day priority selection process. Cheri Tune, Director of Certified Work Ready Communities, and Steve Johnston, Director for the Community Alliance10 of St. Joseph, provided information on the State’s Certified Work Ready Communities initiative. To conclude the roundtables, Mary Hinde, CEO/President for Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri and Becky Cleveland, Community/Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Brookfield, provided background information on the Northwest Missouri Regional Vitality – Communities of Excellence 2026 initiative.
The evening Mardi Gras event, designed to educate attendees about northwest Missouri, consisted of a regional expo that showcased community/county booths which emphasized the identified regional priorities and promoted local attributes. Attending the event were over 300 participants from northwest Missouri, 10 Senators and 90 Representatives from across Missouri, and more than 100 staffers and state office staff from over 25 departments.
Atchison County’s theme for the evening event was “Measuring the Ways #ACisAwesome,” highlighting various Atchison County pride points, from ACDC’s youth programs and Business Improvement Grant to Community Hospital-Fairfax and the culture and recreation the county has to offer. A highly interactive game (created by Ginny and Jack Vernon) drew attendees to the booth, where Atchison County representatives were able to educate legislators from around the state on what comprises Atchison County (and in many instances, where Atchison County is located!) and distributed measuring tapes touting ACDC’s website (www.atchisoncounty.org). Atchison County attendees included Carol Clark, Ginny Vernon, Jim & Regina Quimby, Crystal Woodring, Dennis and Phyllis Martin and several members of Atchison Holt Electric Cooperative, who attended this event in conjunction with the Missouri Electric Cooperative Legislative Conference.
Great Northwest Day concluded Wednesday morning with a presentation from Charlie Shields, CEO of Truman Medical Center and former state senator.
Volunteers from across the region began planning for the event in August of 2016.  Community and corporate sponsors provide financial support for this annual project. Sponsors for this year’s event were Northwest Missouri State University, Touchstone Energy, KCP&L, Mosaic Life Care, Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP, Cameron Regional Medical Center, Olsson and Associates, Snyder & Associates, Missouri American Water, Missouri Western State University, North Central Missouri College, Allstate Consultants, Smithfield Hog Production Missouri, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Innovation Stockyard.
For more information on the event or how you can attend, contact ACDC at 660-744-6562 or visit the website at www.greatnorthwestday.com.