A Vision for A Vibrant, Growing Rural Kansas

A Vision for A Vibrant, Growing Rural Kansas

Non-profit collaborative partnership hopes to rebuild the entrepreneurial spirit in Kansas communities.

Diminishing populations and aging demographics have left many rural Kansas communities drained and diminished. A newly-formed collaborative partnership in Kansas seeks to rebuild the entrepreneurial culture in those communities.

The goal is to build opportunities for Kansans who have made a values-based choice to live here to make a successful life.

Non-profit collaborative partnership hopes to rebuild the entrepreneurial spirit in Kansas communities.

The Kansas Entrepreneurial Communities Initiative is comprised of five Kansas-based non-profits and government organizations who will draw on the best practices from within Kansas and across the world to create a cutting edge model of rural entrepreneur-focused economic development.

"Many who leave rural Kansas do it reluctantly. They want the values and culture of rural Kansas but real-world economic realities force them out," said Harry Watts, Managing Director of Governmental Relations for Kansas Farm Bureau, one of the collaborative partner entities of the Kansas Entrepreneurial Communities Initiative. "Our goal is to expand economic opportunity in rural Kansas by building on the talent and ingenuity already there."

Experience of the collaborating entities has proven that leadership and capacity-building are enhanced when communities possess a strong, educated business class. Home-grown entrepreneurs tend to stay. There are clear tends which indicate businesses recruited from elsewhere or businesses owned by non-residents tend to follow the incentives and have little or no loyalty to the community.     

Community leaders in a half-dozen Kansas communities have stepped forward to participate in the initiative:

Chautauqua, Elk, Greenwood and Woodson Counties; Cheyenne and Rawlins Counties; Dickinson County; the community of Hillsboro; Scott and Wichita Counties; Stafford County.

Partners in the venture include Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Small Business Development Center at Fort Hays State University, NetWork Kansas, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, and the Rural Development Division of the USDA

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