Russell to Return to Economic Development Role

A familiar face is returning to the lead contact role with Republic County Economic Development (RCED).  Jenny Russell first came to Republic County in May 2003 as the second-ever director of RCED.  She returned to the county in the same role in 2010, taking an advisory role in 2013 and continued to attend monthly board meetings.  Jenny and her husband Jay have planted roots here, living in Republic County since 2010 and raising their two children, Owen and Alyssa in the area. 

“I have loved Republic County since 2003 and have had the privilege of serving alongside many of the same dedicated board members for much of that time. After promoting Luke to Director eight years ago, I have assisted as an advisor and supported him in this role. Now, I am excited to be back in the lead role and moving the whole county forward, with all of the great Republic County municipalities, businesses, and organizations that help to make this happen,” stated Jenny Russell.     

Housing in Republic County and in rural areas is an increasingly pressing issue. In addition, it has become a high-level concern locally, within the State of Kansas, from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, and with the Northwest Kansas Economic Innovation Center.  Because of this, JenRus Freelance hired Harley Schuster, a former Dane G. Hansen/Republic County Economic Development intern in 2022.  Harley has a Master’s degree in architecture and at the April 2022 meeting, the board heard how her services could be used within the confines of the Economic Development budget and already existing services to tackle housing and downtown building projects.   

RCED is a county-wide 501(c)6 organization created in 1999 with equal representatives from each of the three commissioner districts, school districts, hospital, county, and cities. The organization’s mission is to diversify and grow the local economy of Republic County. JenRus Freelance was hired to serve the board in October 2010. At the March 2022 meeting, the board reaffirmed this appointment, under the premise of Russell stepping back into the Director role. 

JenRus Freelance staff has been the longest serving directors of the organization with 11 years serving. The innovative model provides flexibility for access to multiple staff available to cover diverse ranges of projects and needs through the years.

The RCED board hired JenRus Freelance as a company to serve in the economic development role as opposed to a single person, as the advantages of this include having continuity in the role if or when transitions happen and support by multiple staff.  Because of the pressures and politics of Economic Development in general, turnover in the position was common and the board spent large amounts of time hiring/transitioning which distracted from the core work of economic development in the county.

The board, direction, and contact information for Republic County Economic Development will remain the same, only the contact person at the end of that communication will change.  To contact the office call 785-527-2310 or 785-374-3047, or email