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Opportunity in Rural
Opportunity in Rural
Opportunity in Rural

Opportunity in Rural

Sarah LaRosh
Sarah LaRosh

Sarah LaRosh

Don Macke Co-Founder, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship; Senior Vice President, LOCUS Impact Investing don@e2mail.org
Don Macke Co-Founder, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship; Senior Vice President, LOCUS Impact Investing don@e2mail.org

Don Macke

Co-Founder, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship; Senior Vice President, LOCUS Impact Investing


(402) 323-7336

Don Macke is Co-Founder and Director of the Entrepreneurial

Communities solution area. Through this work, Don helps communities and regions throughout North America grow entrepreneur-focused economic development strategies. He works

with a group of strategic partners across the country to deliver

customized economic development solutions. Don is also active in the

Community Development Philanthropy solution area, and conducted the first statewide Transfer of Wealth™ study in Nebraska in 2002.

Don has nearly 40 years of community economic development and

policy experience.

Taking Stock – The Power of Assessment Whether a community or a region is successful

Taking Stock The Power of Assessment

Whether a community or a region is successful over time or not depends upon the commitment and choices of its leaders and people, and the investments they make in their development. As Deepak Chopra says, “When you make a choice, you change the

future.” Making the right development choices is a prerequisite for

achieving community and regional prosperity. The best way to make the right development decisions is to commit to a thoughtful and robust assessment of your region’s opportunities. By taking the time to discover and better understand your region’s genuine development opportunities, you will make smarter investments and enhance your region’s potential for greater prosperity.

This Development Opportunity Profile is a start on a pathway to

prosperity. But, it is only a start. It reflects one view of your region,

based on secondary data. We challenge you to build on this work, draw on your own knowledge of the region and its assets, and create a deeper understanding of your unique development opportunities. Then use this understanding to craft and implement a smart development game plan. We hope this Development Opportunity Profile is helpful and contributes to your future development success.

Asking the Right Questions


What is the regional context for your place?


What are the demographic trends in your place?


How is your economy doing in terms of job creation?


How is your economy doing in terms of income generation?


What is driving your economy?

The first section of this Profile provides an historical overview of your economy as a whole:

The regional context

Population trends

Employment trends

Personal income trends

Economic drivers

The second section delves more deeply into the business or entrepreneurial economy, describing general business ownership trends and specific

entrepreneurial attributes of your region. In the final section, we provide a

summary of key development opportunities for your county as well as some identified development challenges.

Regional Context

Republic County is located in extreme north central Kansas on the Nebraska border. This is the “in between” country bounded by the I-70 and I-80 corridors south and north. Republic County is home to eight incorporated communities and four unincorporated communities reflective of a Great Plains County heavily settled during the Homestead period and then thinning out over time as agriculture industrialized. The county reached peak population of 19,002 in 1890 and fell to only 4,926 residents in 2017 representing a 74% depopulation rate.

reached peak population of 19,002 in 1890 and fell to only 4,926 residents in 2017 representing

Center for Rural Affairs Republic County

Recommendation 1 Population

Recommendation 2 Agriculture

Recommendation 3 Retirees

Recommendation 4 Commuters

Recommendation 5 - Spending Capture

Recommendation 6 Local Entrepreneurs

Recommendation 7 Regional Development

Reccomendation 1Population

Your county population is now just under 5,000 residents. Your county population peaked

with the 1890 Census at 19,002 residents. You are aging and depopulation is an issue (refer to Figures 2 through 5, pgs 5 and 6). You have reached a critical tipping point as

you now have more deaths than births annually or negative natural population change

(Figure 3). This pattern coupled with net-outmigration is contributing to the loss of about 81 residents a year (Figure 3).

Esri is projecting that the decline rate for 2017 through 2022 is -0.38% per year. Pursuing a development strategy that both creates economic opportunities and attracts (as well as

retains) residents is critically important. Focusing on the dual strategies of local entrepreneurship and people attraction is paramount.

We recommend that you focus on two all-important age cohorts 30-year-olds and

retiring Baby Boomers. Both groups are actively moving back into rural communities. There is some encouraging news in Figure 5 (pg 6) indicating a net gain of nearly 11%

among 30- to 34-year-olds. Building on this positive trend is encouraged. Developing

both cohorts through retention and attraction strategies will rebuild your demography and strengthen your economy

Recommendation 3 - Retirees

Recommendation 3 Retirees. Retirees are the single largest economic driver (based on

household earnings and spending) for your community. Over the next three decades, approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers will be retiring each day in America. For those

Boomers that are more active and affluent, many will be relocating in retirement. Of

these, there is a significant trend of moving from urban to rural communities. These retirees are seeking value and an easier life (e.g., less crime, congestion, etc.).

We recommend working with your health care sector and entrepreneurs to learn more about this massively growing development opportunity. Boomers want to age in place,

and they are looking for services that allow them to stay independent as long as possible. Capturing this retiree spending estimated at nearly 72 million in Republic County in

2015 (Refer to page 9 for more detail.) can grow a stronger local economy.

Retirees are key to local health care (the 5th largest generator of county household earnings in 2015). However, Figure 5 (pg 6) indicates fairly significant net losses in the 50-

54 (-6.4%) and 55-64 age cohorts (-10.8%). Focusing on retaining and attracting early

Boomer retirees is strongly recommended. Focusing on this generational group will also position your community for sustaining locally available health care services.

Recommendation 4 - Commuters

Recommendation 4 - Commuters 2002 • Work in RP, live outside – 444 • Live and


Work in RP, live outside 444

Live and work in RP 1,380

Live in RP, work outside 885

in RP – 1,380 • Live in RP, work outside – 885 2014 • Work in


Work in RP live outside 674

Live and work in RP 1,182

Live in RP work outside 1,208


Your fourth largest driver of economic activity are people who live in your county but work

outside of the county. You have two development opportunities with this “commuters group.” First, you can grow the number of people who call Republic County home but are willing to drive down the road for work. Focusing on this opportunity can not only increase local economic

activity, but contribute to population stabilization and growth. Second, as commuters age and

move through life stages their desire to “get off the road” increases.

As commuters move into their 30s, 40s, and 50s, many are ready to bring their skills and

experience home if there are jobs or business opportunities. This second opportunity can

particularly be matched up with aging local business owners increasing the odds for successful local business transition.

In 2015, resident commuters (living in Republic County but working outside of the county)

generated nearly $17 million in household earnings (Figure 10, pg 9). This part of your economy

grew by nearly 68% between 2001 and 2015. See our Commuter Profile pulled from Census data for additional information.

Census estimates that 1,145 workers live and work in your county. Another 554 workers live

outside of the county and commute into the county for work. Another 1,031 workers live in the county but commute outside of the county for work. Your community is part of a regional economy and society offering greater diversity and development opportunities.

Recommendation 6 Local Entrepreneurs

Figures 12 through 18 profile your entrepreneurial community. There are

some positive indicators of business development. Self-employment, the leading edge of start-up entrepreneurship, is elevated (Figure 14)

suggesting development opportunity.

Figure 15 provides long-term trends with both nonfarm proprietorship

employment and net income displaying a strong trendline. Some of this

growth is due to the strong agricultural economy in recent years. Higher farm spending impacts nonfarm, main street businesses.

There are corresponding positive indicators to be found in both Stage 1 and

Stage 2 Ventures (Figures 16 and 17, pgs 16 and 17). Your commitment as a NetWork Kansas E-Community gives you strategy and tools to foster more

and better entrepreneurship. Growing successful local entrepreneurs

should be the foundation of your development strategy.

Entrepreneurship Programs

Entrepreneurship Programs • Small Business Courses – LRS Consulting – RCED uses E-Community marketing funds to

Small Business Courses LRS Consulting RCED uses E-Community marketing funds to host free small

business courses in the spring and fall since 2016 when Concordia’s NCK SBDC office moved to Manhattan.

Linda Sutton-Nutsch, their former director now teaches the courses locally. Over 20 individuals and businesses have attended from RP. Also collaborates with Cloud Corp to allow cross over for classes.

*Revolving Loan Consulting Incentive RCED using our own funding to provide a cost share for businesses

work with LRS Consulting to prepare their revolving loan application. Will reimburse ½ the cost up to $500 per business if they apply to the revolving loan fund. Typical consultation has been below $250 total.

Jon Schallert Destination Bootcamp RCED provided seven E-Community scholarships for the second

Community Reinvention Program to attend in March and May. Previous group was funded by a grant. In total

12 businesses have attended from the county: 6 Belleville, 4 Scandia, and 2 - Courtland.

Economic Gardening Program Fisher Rocks received a scholarship in 2017 from Network Kansas to

participate in this 2


stage business program.

Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge RCED awarded $3,000 from E-Community loan funds for prize money

the last two years in local business plan competition. In two years we have had 97 students from 41 teams from both junior and senior high schools have competed with 4 teams qualifying and one state finalist at the

State YEC.


What are some things you agree with from the reports?

(In terms of opportunities)


What things do you not agree with from the



How could this information benefit your

city/organization/business/school etc.?