Skip Navigation


Governor Kelly Announces Recipients of More than $500K in Registered Apprenticeship Grants Governor Laura Kelly today announced a total of $528,478 has been awarded by the Kansas Department of Commerce to eight entities across the state for projects that will attract and retain employees and build the state workforce through registered apprenticeships. Virtual Job Fair to Highlight Hundreds of State Agency Opportunities Jobseekers are encouraged to attend the upcoming State of Kansas Agencies Virtual Job Fair from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, September 27. This month’s virtual fair, hosted by KANSASWORKS, will feature many exciting employment opportunities available across the state’s 98 government agencies. Currently, there are more than 700 vacancies across the state. Governor Kelly Travels to Japan, South Korea to Create More Jobs for Kansans This week, Governor Laura Kelly traveled to Japan and South Korea to participate in the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association (MWJA/JMWA) Conference. While there, she met with business leaders to continue building on Kansas’ historic economic development success and create new job opportunities for Kansas workers. Kansas Commerce Department Hires New International Director Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland announced today Laura Lombard has been named the agency’s new International Director. Lombard brings 15 years of experience in international relations and business development to the position, most recently serving as President and CEO of Kansas Global Trade Services in Wichita. View All


Business Regions Made in Kansas Our Department Publications Initiatives & Incentives Transparency Database About Us Notices Contact

From Murals to Housing Incentives: The Impact of the Rural Champion Project in Wallace County

Jun 02, 2023

Share this post:
Weskan Mural

In October, Lissa Sexson was hired by the County of Wallace to serve as the Rural Champion, or point-person, to move forward efforts of Community Development within the county. Prior to being awarded the Rural Champion grant, Wallace County had not had any official form of community or economic development in close to 15 years. 

Some areas of emphasis for the Rural Champion project were defined broadly as: housing, the economy, and establishing a sustainable structure to move Wallace County Community Development forward with after the Rural Champion stipend. With broad support throughout the county, much work has been initiated and gaining momentum.

One of the first projects Lissa participated with was Rural Mural grant through the Office of Rural Prosperity. This grant was able to help make 3 beautiful murals happen throughout the county and Lissa was the artist of one of the murals that were completed.

Focusing on the primarily agricultural economy of Wallace County, community development has hosted Russell Plaschka with the Kansas Department of Ag for a community conversation focused on ag growth. Additionally, a second, follow up community informational meeting was also had with Plaschka which included Sammy Gleason with the state trademark program, From the Land of Kansas.

Christy Preston with Network Kansas was able to speak with County Commissioners regarding their programing and opportunities that come from being an E-Community. Wallace County Community Development plans to apply for E-Community status prior to the April 4th deadline.

In addition to looking broadly at future economic potential, there has also been a push by Wallace County Community Development to maintain and enhance current businesses through a Storefront and Signage Incentive Program. Between funding from the county, the Wallace County Foundation, and cash-match from award recipients, the Incentive Program could provide $30,000+ worth of visual updates to Wallace County businesses.

Looking at housing, Wallace County Community Development has been working through the Housing Assessment Tool (HAT) with a volunteer advisory committee. This is a self-assessment process that thoroughly gathers local and regional housing data, as well as also considers local input from the community.

Wallace County Community Development is also working through establishing and funding a set of Housing Incentives identified as priorities, including demo of dilapidated properties, spur redevelopment, encourage painting, motivate the sale of vacant homes, and more.

Establishing a brand for Wallace County Community Development and creating lines of communication has also been part of the Rural Champion project. Currently a quarterly newsletter is released, an email contact list is expanding, and there is an effort to be active on social media.

Wallace County Community Development has also laid the groundwork for a community book club starting in March featuring “13 Ways to Kill Your Community”. Each discussion will then be led by a community organization, including the Wallace County Foundation, Wallace County Chamber of Commerce, and Wallace County Visitors Bureau. 

To learn more about this and the 11 additional Rural Champion pilot projects, visit