Governor Laura Kelly announced on August 2, the results of a new report detailing the challenges facing young Kansans in rural communities along with possible solutions to prevent outmigration and strengthen Kansas’ workforce and economy.
The report is the result of the Kansas Sampler Foundation’s Power Up & Go project, which was created through a partnership with the Kansas Office of Rural Prosperity (ORP) to gain a better understanding of the current barriers and opportunities facing young Kansans in rural parts of the state.
“This report will help us address young Kansans’ needs to prevent outmigration and strengthen our growing economy,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “My administration will continue prioritizing the key issues identified – such as childcare, broadband expansion, and affordable housing – along with keeping our state welcoming and inclusive for all to support our rural and young Kansans.”
The Kansas Sampler Foundation created the report using 460 surveys and 175 interviews from Kansans aged 21-39. Information from every county in Kansas is included in the final report.
The survey and interview questions focused on actions young rural Kansans believe will revive and refresh communities facing outmigration.
The majority response points to the “need to create a culture, an ecosystem, that supports and builds the capacity of rural communities.”
Childcare, broadband access and lack of housing were identified as major barriers to that end.
“Respondents overwhelmingly identified that, while rural needs may be specifically local, the issues are systemic across the state,” said Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland. “By focusing on the recurring challenges, like broadband and housing, we can see where our state needs to emphasize funding and additional resources for everyone. This report will help us paint a fuller, more detailed picture of rural Kansas communities, both individually and as a whole.”
Other action areas and suggestions for progress include:
Improving connections to government.
Recognizing and supporting grassroots efforts.
Supporting local advocates.
Creating and developing a culture of appreciation for rural Kansas among the youngest rural residents.
Creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Creating a healthier space for employees/improving work life balance.
Cultivating a positive and inclusive culture among rural Kansas.
“This report will help guide our work for rural communities by fostering a grassroots team environment that builds cooperation, inclusivity and partnerships to grow rural communities,” said ORP Director Trisha Purdon.
“The report reflects the collective brilliance of the 175 young rural Kansans I had the privilege to interview,” said Marci Penner, Executive Director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation. “I encourage people to read the report and then find areas where they can take action. If we do, I believe we can ensure a new way to look at the future of rural communities.”
Purdon and Penner will hosted a live discussion on the ORP’s Facebook page yesterday afternoon, that can still be viewed here.
To view the full report, click here.