Recap: Rural Opportunities Conference

ROZ Strategies

Luke Mahin

Luke Mahin – Republic County

Luke Mahin is a native of Courtland, Kansas (pop. 285) and a 2010 graduate of Fort Hays State University with a BA degree in Communication Studies/Advertising. He is an account executive with JenRus Freelance, an internet marketing & rural development company, based in Courtland. His duties include spearheading Republic County Economic Development and assisting with marketing clients. Outside the office Luke is a head junior high basketball coach and is an active participant in the Kansas PowerUp movement.

ROC – Schedule

General Session: Opportunity Knocks!
Christy Hopkins and Liz Sosa
PowerUp Liaisons

Is your community experiencing the opposite of “brain drain”? Are young families or PowerUps returning home or moving in because of the tremendous opportunities they have in rural Kansas? Join us for dialogue about the PowerUp Movement and strategies to engage and connect this younger population to the benefit of them and your community!

Funding Diversity & Collaboration for Community and Entrepreneurial Development
• Moderator: Greg Panichello, State Director, Kansas Small Business Development Center
• Jeff Hofaker, Phillipsburg, Kan.
• Svetlana Hutfles, Executive Director, Kansas Association of Community Foundations
• Carolyn Kennett, Economic Development Director, City of Parsons

When cultivating entrepreneurship in your community, leaders need to know the three keys to success. The first section of this breakout will cover the 3 F’s of entrepreneurial development: 1) Formulating the plan; 2) Funding options; and 3) Follow through. Success stories will be shared to complement this instruction.
The second portion of this breakout will feature a comparison of past and new approaches toward community development and leadership. It will point communities toward the need to adapt to “doing more with less” and getting to the action points of growing the community.

Closing the Workforce Housing Gap
• Moderator: Patty Clark, State Director, USDA Rural Development
• Randall Hrabe, Executive Director, Northwest Kansas Planning & Development Commission
• Liz Sosa, CEO, Public Square Communities
• Jason Van Sickle, President, J. Van Sickle & Company

Panelists will convey their experiences with property development and re-development in rural communities providing perspective from the private, non-profit and public sectors.

General Session: Kansas Water Trends
Tracy Streeter
Director, Kansas Water Office

Mr. Streeter will give an overview of where we stand in Kansas when it comes to water use and water supply. The value of water supply and quality is approaching a critical vortex. Gaining an understanding of where we are in water use and future need is an excellent way to begin the discussion for addressing this serious situation.

The Billion Dollar Question: What is the Economic Impact of Water Upon Kansas Today…and Tomorrow?
• Moderator: Katie Eisenhour, Executive Director, Scott County Development Committee, Inc.
• Dr. Bill Golden, Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University
• Juan Guardiola, President, Tortilla King
• Larry Paine, City Administrator, City of Hillsboro

The value of water as a natural resource has long been debated. Debating who needs water more and for what purpose has never been more contentious in Kansas. What segments successfully maximize water’s economic impact? What sectors need to improve water conservation efforts? What must Kansans understand about the effect of water quality and quantity issues to preserve their economic future across the entire state? How can Kansans, as stakeholders, become partners to the Governor’s 50-Year Water Plan? This session will encourage discussion about the future of life-sustaining water in Kansas. Finding ways to evolve divisiveness into a solution-seeking mindset is critical for generating a strong economic future for Kansas. Bring your vision, ideas and solution-seeking mindset!

Destination Rural Kansas: Attracting Residents, Developing Workers, Encouraging Entrepreneurs

Business Strategies for Talent
• Moderator: Corey Mohn, Director of Statewide Programs, NetWork Kansas
• Mike Bosch, CEO, Dawn Fiber
• Clare Gustin, Vice President, Member Services, Sunflower Power Electric Corporation
• Joann Knight, Executive Director, Dodge City/Ford County Development Corporation

ROZ Strategies
• Moderator: Chris Harris, Program Manager, Kansas Department of Commerce
• Simone Cahoj, Wichita County
• Christy Hopkins, Greeley County
• Luke Mahin, Republic County

Join an interactive session where panelists and audience members explore best practices to help redefine rural development and the attraction of talent to rural Kansas. Two diverse panels will share strategies for fostering entrepreneurship and ways in which local officials can get creative with targeted programs like Rural Opportunity Zones to expand positive local impact.

General Session: Looking to the Future – Higher Education & Innovation for Rural Kansas
Shane Bangerter
Kansas Board of Regents
Mr. Bangerter will discuss how Kansas is preparing its workforce to meet the future needs of our technical economy.