Date of Award

Fall 12-2013

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Economic Development and Planning

Committee Chair

Chad Miller

Committee Chair Department

Economic and Workforce Development

Committee Member 2

William Smith

Committee Member 2 Department

Finance, Real Estate, and Business Law

Committee Member 3

Shannon Campbell


In May 2007, an EF-5 tornado ripped through and annihilated 95% of Greensburg, Kansas, a town of about 1,500 people in the southwestern portion of the state. On the heels of the disastrous Hurricane Katrina federal response and with the promise of two sitting presidents to use all of the federal support available, the town vowed not only to "survive, but thrive." Months later, Greensburg civic, business and elected leaders - with a host of external expertise - unveiled a recovery plan that not only set in motion the rebuilding of the two-square mile town but also offered the opportunity to become the first model green city in the United States. Media captured the daily struggles of Greensburg for years, and tourists, academicians, and elected officials have come from all over the world to witness how this small town has used sustainability practices. Today, the city boasts the most environmentally-friendly and architecturally rich buildings per capita in America. However, beneath the coating of eco-friendly public buildings and energy-efficient homes propped up by unprecedented financial, technical and federal support, brews a quiet storm of smaller tax rolls, higher taxes, an underused business incubator, empty business park, decreasing revenue streams, growing consumer debt, increased number of mortgages past due by 90 days, and a clock ticking until 2018 when homeowners must pay the full property tax rates that have been delayed by a decade. The population has not returned to pre-storm levels as predicted by the same group ofleaders. The media no longer visits. Six years later, America's role model for the green technology movement looks more like a cautionary tale of outsider influence, misunderstood economic development principles, and a hint of buyers' remorse.

Included in

Economics Commons