Lona DuVall, President and CEO of Finney County Economic Development Corporation, has been named one of Ingram’s Magazine’s “50 Kansans You Should Know 2022.”
According to the magazine’s website, 50 Kansans You Should Know launched in 2011 to put some faces on the diversity of leadership driving growth and bringing vitality to communities across the Sunflower State.
DuVall has led FCEDC for the past decade and has been an integral part of the tremendous growth in Garden City/Finney County over that time.
“I’m very honored and humbled to be selected for this year’s Ingram’s list,” DuVall said. “I feel very privileged to serve a community where I can say everyone here should be listed on a list of ‘Kansans you should know.’ It’s always a thrill to see Garden City described in a way that tells our story. We are definitely the hometown for the American Dream!”
The Ingram’s article reads:
If the American Dream had a hometown, it might look a lot like Garden City. Few communities in Kansas have experienced similar levels of demographic change seen in that Finney County community over the past 20 years, with immigrants flocking in to fill thousands of jobs in the regional meat-packaging sector. They came for those jobs, but they aren’t settling for that work.
“Newcomers to the Garden City region often bring with them a strong entrepreneurial spirit,” DuVall said. “Finney County is in the upper quartile of counties nationwide for upward mobility from the first generation to second,” she says, “Opportunities abound in our region for those who come to the area with a good work ethic and a desire to better their economic futures.”
Duvall, a native of Leoti … made her own way to Garden City more than 20 years ago and spent much of her career in banking. “I have always enjoyed helping businesses grow and prosper,” she says. “My career in the banking industry allowed me the opportunity to do just that” in a wide variety of business sectors. It also revealed ways, she said, that “the public sector can set the climate for the private sector to be successful. It was a logical next step for me to engage in public sector work to create the best business climate possible in Finney County,” which she says is a progressive agricultural community, with “significant opportunities in the value-added agricultural sector.”
In addition to DuVall, two others from the Greater Garden City area made the list – John Petz, president and CEO of Irsik & Doll in Cimarron; and Janeth Vazquez, marketing manager at Southwest Regional Health in Liberal.
According to Ingram’s, Petz, who earned a business degree at Wichita State University and still serves on its board, produced a history of the 62-year-old company for its website, offering his 30,000-foot view on what has made I&D a powerhouse in cattle feeding, grain handling and commercial feed mill operations.
“The founders’ interest in being a conservative organization devoted to agriculture, while not compromising integrity,” Petz wrote. “The reputation, financial stability, long-time customer base, shareholder retention of capital and a team of dedicated employees have contributed to the entire growth of the company and how the company will operate into the future.”
Vazquez came to Liberal at the age of three with her immigrant family, seeking the American Dream. She studied journalism at Seward County Community College and Wichita State, and started her TV news career in Wichita. She returned to Liberal after having her first child in 2014 and told Ingram’s she may return to the news field someday but found a good fit in Liberal as a working mother.
Vazquez was recently elected to the Liberal City Commission.
“People who share my identities are underrepresented in almost all forms of government across the United States,” she said in her Ingram’s article. “People of color, young people, and women are underrepresented at the local level in my hometown. I saw running for officer as an opportunity to get involved in my community and discuss issues that affect us all.”
Ingram’s Magazine has been the leading business publication in Missouri and Kansas for more than 45 years. No other publication, broadcast outlet or Internet medium works harder to cover business, industry, and economic development trends throughout the bi-state region.
Ingrams.com is the regional business community’s gateway to news, features and business statistics relevant to every one of the seven diverse regions in each state, coupled with individual Destination Missouri and Destination Kansas Web sites for every county and hundreds of cities in the two-state region.
To see the full list of 50 Kansans You Should Know, visit Ingrams.com through this link: