A meatpacking center located in southwestern Kansas, rural Finney County is home to a diverse community and sizable immigrant population.
Garden City, the county seat, is home to over 73% of the county’s residents, as well as two meatpacking plants. Since the town’s founding in 1879, beef has been a prime driver of the local economy, with the meatpacking industry attracting an influx of Hispanic, Asian, and African immigrants. In 1980, white residents made up 84% of Finney County’s population. Over the next 20 years, the population of foreign-born persons grew, peaking at 23% in 2000. From 2010-2014, the foreign-born population comprised 21% of county residents. The county has embraced these new arrivals; anti-immigrant sentiment is not a feature of community life.
In response to demographic changes in Finney County, several organizations are implementing initiatives to help immigrants better utilize available health care and social services, such as English language classes. Other local initiatives seek to improve the health and well-being of the county’s young children. Finney County has received funding from the Kansas Health Foundation and Garden City to improve its built environment.