Today Governor Laura Kelly, Lt. Governor David Toland, and Treasurer Lynn Rogers announced the release of the Office of Rural Prosperity’s (ORP) 2020 Annual Report. The report outlines ORP’s policy priorities and the office’s ongoing projects, including rural infrastructure and broadband, childcare and early education, housing, and community and workforce development.
“The Office of Rural Prosperity has been an important tool to address economic issues facing rural communities, businesses, and Kansans,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “We know that more work must be done to encourage community and economic development across our state, and this report provides a roadmap to continue investing in and supporting rural Kansans.”
“The annual report does a good job outlining how, even in an unprecedented health crisis this past year, the State of Kansas was still able to make progress on areas that heavily impact rural Kansans,” State Treasurer Lynn Rogers said. “This was made possible through Governor Kelly’s leadership, ORP’s direct investments, legislative advocacy on major policy priorities like broadband, and partnerships with stakeholders, experts, and state agencies.”
The report also provides an overview of the 2020 virtual tour, including seven regional and statewide listening sessions and 18 stakeholder breakout sessions. Efforts include those the Kelly administration started working on before the pandemic and actions the state has taken to empower Kansas residents and communities experiencing challenges amplified by the pandemic.
“Thanks to State Treasurer Lynn Rogers’ dedication to rural Kansas, the Office of Rural Prosperity continues to make real progress tackling many of the state’s most important issues,” Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland said. “I’ve been a rural Kansan my whole life. I understand that the needs are great, but I also know that the grit and determination of rural Kansans are unmatched. I look forward to continuing and accelerating the important work of the ORP.”
ORP successes highlighted in the report include:
- Establishing an interagency workgroup to address housing needs across the state and launching a statewide comprehensive housing study for the first time in almost 30 years.
- Partnering with the Kansas Sampler Foundation to identify, recruit, retain, engage, and empower young professionals in rural areas.
- Supporting the programs and operations of the Kansas Department of Commerce’s Community Development Division. The division provides local partners with technical assistance and implements broadband projects, infrastructure programs, housing, early childhood and childcare, and the Kansas Main Street Program.
ORP will continue to build on the progress made in each of the key priority areas and support other creative efforts to help rural communities make improvements.