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Governor Kelly Announces More than $8M to be Invested in Digital Opportunities Governor Laura Kelly announced today that Kansas is receiving $8.2 million to begin implementing the Kansas Digital Equity (DE) Plan, which recently received federal approval. This announcement solidifies the state’s commitment to transform the landscape of high-speed internet connectivity and digital opportunity across Kansas. Nominations Open for 2024 Minority, Women Enterprise Development Awards Today Lieutenant Governor and Department of Commerce Secretary David Toland announced a call for nominations for the 2024 Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Awards. These annual awards are one way the agency acknowledges and observes the growing impact that minority- and women-led companies have on their communities and the Kansas economy. Governor Kelly Announces KMW to Invest $105M in Sterling, Create 251 New Jobs in Kansas Governor Laura Kelly today announced that KMW, a precision manufacturer of agricultural front loaders, backhoes, and other attachments, will invest $105 million to construct a new North American headquarters and state-of-the-art production facility in Sterling. The venture will create 251 new jobs, resulting in a local workforce of 485. Commerce Celebrates National Community Development Week The Kansas Department of Commerce is joining other organizations and communities across the state in commemorating National Community Development Week. The annual event, which this year is April 1-5, shines a spotlight on the transformative impact of community development initiatives and collaborative efforts that drive positive local change.  View All


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Grassroots Efforts

The Office of Rural Prosperity (ORP) advocates for and promotes rural Kansas and focuses on efforts designed to aid rural improvements. A Grassroots Economic Development 101 training was created with guidance from the Institute for Decision Making at the University of Northern Iowa to assist in identifying topics of importance in the work of economic and community development. The information in this course is invaluable to any rural Kansas champion who believes in moving our state forward. Please feel welcome to reach out to ORP with any questions about the training.

Reach us by email at [email protected] or by phone at (785) 289-3763.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

Grassroots Economic Development 201 may have concluded, but all of our episodes can be viewed on our Kansas Department of Commerce YouTube Channel.

Available Resources

We continue to strive to provide resource information that are beneficial to rural communities. If there are other topics that would be beneficial, please let us know and we’ll work to provide a learning opportunity.

Kansas Infrastructure Hub and Build Kansas Fund

We recently hosted “Engaging with the Capacity Extension Team“, which highlighted the Kansas Infrastructure Hub and Build Kansas Fund’s Capacity Extension Team to provide details and opportunities to utilize the technical assistance offered to rural communities. There are many opportunities and resources available for rural communities to take advantage of, making it easier to leverage the unprecedented federal funding available for infrastructure projects. BIL supports investments in transportation, energy and power, broadband, water and sewer, community resilience, and cybersecurity. Watch the recording to gain knowledge on how to utilize this resource for your community.

Grassroots Economic Development 201 virtual sessions available for viewing  

As a continuation of ED 101, ED 201 delves deeper into issues important to rural communities. Participants heard from program specialists and field experts covering topics rural Kansans care about. Community representatives spoke to their experiences and facilitated conversation around best practices.  Sessions are now available for viewing, aiding communities in navigating the programs and processes discussed throughout the series.  

ORP is committed to providing information participants are looking to know. We hope to foster a comfortable space for asking questions and creating dialogue among those who are working toward a more prosperous rural Kansas.  If you have questions about any of the topics discussed in these sessions, please reach out to us at [email protected].  

“These trainings are Valuable to Rural communities because it provides affordable and equal access to the experts, and empowers individuals, regardless of title or position, to make a positive impact on their community, regardless of size.”

Julie Lyon, Kiowa County Economic Development

“What the Office of Rural Prosperity is doing with the Grassroots sessions could be invaluable to many of the rural communities in Kansas. It’s a truly wonderful thing their doing sharing and disseminating information from other communities around the state who already have the experience of developing and implementing programs of their own.”

Andy Jones, MSEd
Office of Primary Care and Rural Health
Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE)

Grassroots ED 201 Virtual Sessions

Session 1: Strategic Engagement & Planning

Strategic Engagement & Planning –

  • Engaging the community and getting buy in from leadership  
  • Best practices for collaboration 
  • Breaking down the strategic planning process to establish realistic goals 
  • Measuring and reporting success 
Session 2: Matching Funding and Economic Development Initiatives and Understanding Grants 

Kansas Economic Development Matching Funding and Economic Development Initiatives and Understanding Grants - 

  • Matching funding needs with available funding options  
  • Examples for uses of funding programs in successful projects 
  • Tips and best practices for applying for and winning grants 
Session 3: Be Prepared for Housing Development

Be Prepared for Housing Development –

  • What communities need to have in place from a developer’s perspective 
  • How to set up and use RHID & Land bank programs 
  • Programs that can be duplicated in rural communities 
Session 4: Marketing Your Community

Marketing Your Community –

Join us to learn about best practices for business retention, and also how to help e

  • How to develop a brand and marketing plan for your community  
  • Easy (And Cheap!) Marketing Tools for Your Community  
  • How to energize your community to grow 
Session 5: Planning and Considerations for Site and Spec Building Development

Planning and Considerations for Site and Spec Building Development –

  • Steps to determine if an industrial site is right for your community 
  • Considerations for the types of development (industrial, commercial, mixed use)  
  • Is a virtual spec building an option for your community? 
Session 6: Addressing Challenges in Childcare

Addressing Challenges in Childcare –

  • Ongoing efforts to address childcare around the state 
  • Resources available to communities  
  • Examples of programs 

Grassroots ED 101 Sessions

Session 1: Economic Development 101 Overview

ED 101

Join us as we provide a basic economic development training course over 9 weeks that will enable anyone working on economic development issues a foundation of information to build upon as they tackle local challenges facing their community. This training is meant to support new economic developers, grassroots community members working on local challenges, elected officials, or anyone looking to support the growth of their Kansas community.

· Overview (why is ED important?)

· Possible Areas of Activity

· Players/Partners

· Common organizational structures – innovation with new organizational structures

· The Board – roles/responsibilities

· Realistic organizational capacity/Prioritizing

Session 2: Kansas Economic Development Programs

Kansas Economic Development Programs

Join us for the second Grassroots Economic Development 101 training. This session will cover Kansas economic development programs. The following will be the agenda for the day:

· The Kansas team – Welcome by David Toland

· State Incentives – Alicia Hutchings – 3:10 – 3:45

· State Community Development Programs –Kayla Savage – 3:45 – 4:30

· Utility partners in Kansas –Sunflower Electric Cooperative- 4:30 – 5

Session 3: Financing for Development

Investing in growth for the community and organization

This third session in the Grassroots ED 101 session will cover Financing for Development. Financing for Development and will cover the following:

· Impact investing and Foundation Partnerships – Aspen Institute Janet Topolsky and Deb Markley, and Hutchinson Foundation – 3pm – 3:40

· USDA – David Kramer (business programs director) and Dan Fischer (KS Director), KS USDA Rural Development – 3:40 – 4:10

· Incentivizing Growth (Session on common local incentives) – KEDA Board -Kerri Falletti, Paul Bean, Beth Sheldon, Blake Benson 4:10 – 4:35

· Sustaining your organization – KEDA members- Kerri Falletti, Blake Benson, Beth Shelton, Paul Bean 4:35 – 5pm

Session 4: Business Retention & Expansion

#4 Business Retention & Expansion

Join us to learn about best practices for business retention, and also how to help existing businesses expand in your community. The agenda: Business Retention & Expansion

· What is BRE? – Craig VanWey

· Risks and Rewards – Craig VanWey

· ED Roles/Creating the team – Tara Vance, Mike Posson, and Donna Liddle – Norton ED Team

· Confidentiality – KEDA Board Members – Janet McRae, Beth Shelton, Blake Benson and Paul Bean

· Following up and following through – Panel of ED professionals- Janet McRae, Beth Shelton, Blake Benson and Paul Bean

Session 5: Business Attraction

#5 Business Attraction

Join us for the 5th session of the Grassroots Economic Development 101 course with the Office of Rural Prosperity, focusing on business recruitment. This critical function doesn’t just mean large industries, but also small businesses as well. In this session we will hear from our State Business Recruitment team to learn more about best practices to help you be more competitive in recruiting a business for your community. Led by Alicia Hutchings and Randi Tveitaraas Jack.

· What is Site Selection

· Product development

· Prospecting/RFPs – Business recruitment Team

· Marketing – Communities doing it well – Business Recruitment Team

· Site Visit Protocols

Session 6: Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development

Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development

Join us for the 6th session of the Grassroots Economic Development 101 course with the Office of Rural Prosperity, focusing on entrepreneurship and supporting underserved and minority populations in business development and community development.

· Seeding Entrepreneurship – SBDC and Network Kansas – Ciara Miller, Randy Robinson and Greg Jordan

· Working with under-served populations/diversity – Kira Cheree, Donnetta Watson, Gabe Munoz

Session 7: Workforce Development/Talent Engagement

Workforce Development/Talent Engagement

In Session 7 of the Grassroots Economic Development 101 course with the Office of Rural Prosperity, you’ll hear from presenters on Workforce Development and Talent Engagement. We will learn about programs, opportunities and efforts in the state recruit and engage with workforce.

· Pipeline development programs – Alan Cobb, Kansas Chamber

· Remote work opportunities – Ron Wilson, Huck Boyd Institute K-State

· People attraction efforts – Lacie Bohr, SEK Workforce Center, Katie Givens, KansasWorks

· Young People retention efforts -Rural by Choice – Power Ups – Marci Penner

W1 Business Services Brochure

W2 Based Learning for Young Adults

W3 SEKWORKS 1.19.22 Presentation

W4 Employment Services Guide

W5 Local Area Workforce links

W6 KANSASWORKS Map – Jan 2018

Session 8: Community Development

Community Development

Join us for session 8 of the Grassroots Economic Development 101 course with the Office of Rural Prosperity, focusing on valuable community development topics. As many communities across Kansas are working to address these issues, presenters will tell you about activities that are ongoing and about tools you can use in your communities.

· Housing – Randy Speaker, Kansas Dept. of Commerce; Tracy McCubbin, USDA Single Family Housing

· Child Care – Melissa Rooker, Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund

· Main Street Revitalization – Scott Sewell and Shelley Paasch, Kansas Main Street; Kayla Savage, CDBG

· LOIS training and Evergy Programs – Lisa Franklin, Evergy

Session 9: Other State of Kansas Partners

Other State of Kansas Partners

Join us for the 9th session the Office of Rural Prosperity’s Grassroots Economic Development 101 course when we will continue learning about additional community development activities from other Kansas Partners working throughout our state.

· Tourism, Agri-Tourism and Recreational Assets – Brigette Jobe, Kelsey Tully- Kansas Tourism

· Site Certification and working with Kansas Department of Health and Environment- Marla Canfield, KDC; Seth Mettling, KDHE Brownfields

· Office of Broadband – Stanley Adams, Broadband Program Manager

· USDA Community Programs – Dan Fischer, USDA Rural Development

Session 10: Increasing Kansas Exports

Increasing Kansas Exports

In Session 10 we’ll discuss Kansas Exports. The international Division in the Department of Commerce is responsible for helping Kansas companies increase their exports. The Division is also responsible for attracting and working with foreign direct investment in the state. During this session we will provide a broad discussion of the trade promotion landscape in the state, introducing attendees to our specific programs that help companies export as well as the ecosystem of other service providers that also help companies engage internationally.

· Kansas Export Programs – Jeff Willis and April Chiang, International Division, KDC

Session 11: Legislative and BASE

Legislative and Recovery

For the 11th session the Office of Rural Prosperity’s Grassroots Economic Development 101 were going to go deeper into topics that can seem a bit overwhelming to those that don’t work with these topics every day. You’ll hear a high-level overview from the Office of Recovery to get a better understanding of the process and possible uses of ARPA as well as SPARK funds. You will also gain a better understanding on working with your local legislators and have a legislative update on what is happening in this year’s session.

· ARPA and SPARK funds – Andrea Clark, Governor’s Office of Recovery; Johnathan Clayton, Commerce Economic Recovery

· Working with Legislature and update – Rachel Willis, KDC

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