About Liberal

Home to just shy of 20,000 people in southwestern Kansas, near the Oklahoma border, Liberal is the seat of Seward County and best known today for the presence of National Beef Packing. Beef processing moved to Liberal in the late 1960s and has grown to be a foundation of its economy — nearly 20% of the town is directly employed by National Beef.

In large part because of that, Seward County had the highest percentage of foreign-born residents in the U.S., according to the 2010 census, as immigrants have journeyed to Liberal for steady, physically demanding jobs in the meat-packing and dairy industries. Recently, however, the town is working toward fostering more entrepreneurial opportunities among its population.

Liberal is also known for Dorothy Gale from the “Wizard of Oz” and Pancake Day. In the 1950s and ’60s, locals were often asked if this was the home of Dorothy and, rather than fight it, the town embraced it. Liberal has leveraged the tourism interest as a result. Similarly, the community started an international Pancake Day race with Olney, England, in the 1950s, an event occurs on Shrove Tuesday each year and includes a weekend of festivities.

Community partners

  • The Seward County Development Corporation‘s mission is to promote the exchange of ideas and information among members; to preserve, protect, enhance, and develop existing business and pursue quality new business; and to provide both economic and lifestyle opportunities for the county’s residents and businesses.
  • The Seward County Community College Foundation provides the opportunity to help students, faculty, and the overall college in a number of ways through annual gifts, endowments, special gifts, events and projects, and memorials.

We love learning from each other and from other communities. This Network provides us with introductions to others throughout the country who are striving to make the same economic changes in their communities as we are.

Eli Svaty, Executive Director, Seward County Development Corporation

Explore our Network

Today, these local leaders are focused on educating and training local residents in digital skills (especially those traditionally excluded from the tech industry), employing them in new economy jobs, and empowering them to launch startups that will drive a prosperous 21st-century economy. Diverse in geography, economic origin, and demographics, these communities represent the full spectrum of rural America.