“This is a very important opportunity for Ellis County to continue to grow its workforce.”
That was the initial thoughts from Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., following a stop in Hays Wednesday to tour Hess Services north of Hays.
Moran was joined on the tour by members of the Ellis County Commission, Hays City Commission, Fort Hays State University and Midwest Energy as the county looks to build support and spread awareness of the importance of the Northwest Business Corridor.
“I know a lot about Hays. I know a lot about Ellis County. This is home,” Moran said. “What I saw here today was not anything I knew about and nothing that I really expected.”
Hess Services is in its 30th year of operations and provides oil field and industrial equipment. They design and fabricate a variety of oil field equipment including storage tanks, pressure vessels and well servicing rigs, and drilling rigs.
They provide equipment for operators across most of the U.S., from the Bakken Oil Field in the Dakotas to Texas and California.
“Here’s somebody who capitalized on the oil and gas markets around the country and created hundreds of jobs in Ellis County, and it’s hometown boys who are doing it” Moran said.
“It is a great development and it’s what we need in every community and we need more of here, is people who have an idea. It’s called the American Dream — we have an idea and we take it to market and help other people pursue the American Dream,” he added.
With 400 employees, Hess Services is the largest business on the proposed Northwest Business Corridor, which also includes Midwest Energy’s Goodman Energy Center.
Last month, Ellis County submitted the grant application for a U.S. Department of Transportation BUILD grant for $8.7 million.
The grant money would help pay for improvements to 230th Avenue between Interstate 70 and Feedlot Road and Feedlot Rd. from 230th to U.S. 183. The total cost of the project is approximately $10.78 million.
Moran said the Hess’s did not ask a lot of the federal government but that the infrastructure needs to be improved in that area.
“So that there is a safer way to get to work,” he said. “(There is) lots of truck traffic on these roads and lots of other businesses are here and are coming here if we can get the investment in infrastructure.”
During the tour, Moran asked if there was a concern that Ellis County could receive two BUILD grants within two years. The city of Hays received a $6 million grant just last year to make improvement to Vine Street
County officials pointed out the money the city received and the $8.7 million Ellis County applied for combined still would not equal some of the costs of the other projects that have applied for the grant.
Ellis County Commission Dustin Roths said they really look at the two projects as one, completing the loop, or bypass, around Hays.
Moran said he has already has talked with members of the DOT about the importance of the project.
“We’ll work to get the Department of Transportation to understand that even better,” Moran said. “We’ll be back to the department of transportation advocating on behalf of this project.”