How It Started vs. How It’s Going

JenRus Freelance has been serving the Republic County Economic Development Board for 10 years this month!

Jenny (Ahlvers) Russell, founder of JenRus, previously served as the RCED director in 2003-2004, before moving to Downs when she married Jay Russell. In 2010 the couple with their son moved back to the county. Luke Mahin joined JenRus after graduating from FHSU that summer. Jenny Russell served as the director from 2010-2014. Luke Mahin became the director in 2014 and Jenny continues to serve as an advisor to the board.

Jenny and Luke experienced firsthand the challenges of relocating to a rural area. Jenny with finding a home for her family in a tight housing market and exploring limited options for childcare. And Luke with searching for local jobs from Hays that weren’t listed online or rental housing that often only found only by word-of-mouth. JenRus Freelance saw additional challenges with limited office space and worked “remotely” from their homes long before the term was trendy.

In the last decade, RCED has supported hundreds of expanding, startup, and succession businesses in the county ranging from Belleville’s industrial park to main streets across the county. They broadened communication of local, state, and national resources for businesses and our communities. Developed partnerships with regional and state agencies who serve our county. Connected thousands of people locally and across the nation to job listings of local employers, homes for sale, and rentals in the county on our website. RCED assisted in millions of dollars of new investment in the county through projects and programs like revolving loan funds, grants, and incentives programs. Entrepreneurship programs have expanded from adult education to a youth program with hundreds of junior/senior high students in both school districts competing with business ideas.

The biggest change we have seen is in the positive perception of Republic County and our future. Our county is worthy of our investment and more people, of all ages, are returning to join in that collective future. RCED is merely a connector for those investments from our businesses, volunteer board members, cities, county departments, and non-profits. We are blessed to work with great people and projects across the county. A lot of things have changed in the county since 2010, we can honestly say that most of that change has been for the better.

Luke Mahin
RCED Director
(785) 374-3047

Click the links to see highlights from previous years!





Love’s Travel Stop ribbon cutting


Dan Douglas successor of the lumber yard; Belleville Hometown Lumber.


Buffalo Apartments groundbreaking.


Reinke Manufacturing expansion.


B Defined Fitness owner Kendra Short.


Republic County Economic Development Corporation (RCED) was formed in 1999 to help improve the economic diversity of Republic County. RCEDC was created by an interlocal agreement between the Republic County Commission and the City of Belleville.

The RCED board is made up of twelve voting members. Three voting members from each of the three Republic County Commissioner Districts and one member appointed by the Republic County Commissioners, one by City of Belleville and one at large position.

The local governments, private businesses and citizens will come together, forming a non-profit organization with the aim of undertaking economic development efforts, promoting sustainable business, improving workforce development, diversifying the economic base of a region, and improving the quality of life.