Let me tell you my first experience with Concordia (and I apologize to those of you who have already heard my story before).
Eighteen months ago, I came for an interview at Cloud County Health Center for the position of Chief Financial Officer. I had no intention of taking the job; I came here only as a favor to a previous friend.
I already had a CFO job in Palacios, Texas, and I wasn’t looking to leave.
I was two and a half hours from my grandbabies — just the right distance to stay out of the day-to-day “stuff” of a large family, but close enough to get home in a hurry. Palacios boasts that it has the “largest shrimp fleet in Texas” – yes, fresh shrimp right off of the boat. It’s located on the Matagorda Bay, just off the Gulf of Mexico. I had an apartment right on the water, palm trees were in my front yard, a 2-mile walking trail bordered the water, people all over the United States went there to retire… Can you picture it?
Then I came to Kansas for the job interview.
I flew into the Wichita airport, leased a car and started driving north. All I saw was flat land.
I kept driving north. More flat land.
Hmmm. I do not like flat land.
Finally, there were some rolling hills. Well, OK.
Then, as I get closer to Concordia, the terrain changes and yes! There are hills. OK, this might not be so bad…
During my interview, I was taken to our incredible Sixth Street businesses — clothing stores, a coffee shop, soda fountain, restaurants, all the mom-and-pop businesses, a movie theater (with four screens, no less!), the Brown Grand and quilt shop…
I was beginning to change my mind about Palacios.
Concordia demonstrated its great community teamwork with the Cloudville Park Project. We also have Cloud County Community College, which is not only a two-year school, but has grown into a multi-campus system of higher education.
Then there are the Sisters of St. Joseph — they are like a great big ball of energy. When they have a new initiative, just step aside, they will get it done.
Most towns our size are not a thriving regional trade center. Yet we have such an active economic development group with CloudCorp, the Concordia Chamber of Commerce and the Pros of Con group.
We need to continue to look to the future. We need to bring in more industry and jobs so that we can give our children a choice to stay here in Concordia and make a living wage.
We always need to look ahead for those things that make our community stand out — and to make it an exciting new home for people like me.
— Cherri Waites came to Concordia as CFO of Cloud County Health Center in August 2014 and was named CEO of the hospital in June 2015.