Rural & Remote Sees Successful 2021, Continues To Make Big Impact In NWKS

More time with family.

Less commuting stress. 

Improved work-life balance.

Location independence.  

Flexible schedule.

All this and more, all the while doing a job you love, in a place you love, while wearing your comfiest sweats, sounds like something out of a dream, doesn’t it?  (Okay, we will admit the sweats are optional, but we certainly won’t tell you no.) 

While this may sound futuristic and dreamy, thanks to NWKEICI’S Rural & Remote program, that ‘dream’ is a potential reality for anyone who resides in the 26 Northwest Kansas counties served by EICI and who has an interest in remote work. Per the Rural & Remote website, “​​You shouldn’t have to leave to achieve. Rural & Remote is about connecting people in rural communities to remote jobs as a way of creating pathways back home and opportunities for those who want to stay in their communities!”

According to NWKS Program Coordinator Gretchin Staples, “Rural & Remote began as an initiative of NWKEICI in the Spring of 2019, and is one of the most successful programs to date. The mission of educating our area on how we can help families stay home, or come home, by providing remote work skills training and job connections to remote opportunities is impacting our region, person by person.”

Staples works with all aspects of the R&R program, from planning and programming to implementation and evaluation. She has been with the program since August 2019,  about four months after the program launched. Since its birth, the Rural & Remote program has assisted over 30 individuals in the region achieve their goal of finding a remote job. 

Staples explained that Rural & Remote assists its members every step of the way, from training to work experience to job support. “One of the best parts is, there’s something for everyone,” she says. As their website explains, “The Rural & Remote process is customized for each individual based on their experience and unique needs.”

Rural & Remote is coming off the heels of a strong 2021 year. According to Staples, “R&R tracks participants’ success from those that finished the training to those that achieved a remote job – and this past year posted a 40% placement rate.”

Staples went on to list the job categories placed, including support, professional, and tech. “Job types have been virtual assistant, customer service, accounting, graphic design, loan processing, web development and even a video game developer!” 

Staples spoke a bit about the impact the pandemic has had on Rural & Remote. “The pandemic boosted the awareness that people had towards remote working for sure!  I wouldn’t say that it increased our numbers yet, but I can see that it is starting to. As I gather more info regarding those already working remotely in our area, I keep hearing about more that have relocated here due to the pandemic and brought their remote job with them.  

As for the new year, Rural & Remote plans to grow and develop even more with some exciting initiatives. “In 2022, the team will work on implementing a coding program at the high school level, activating our community partners, growing our employer partner connections, and supporting each participant with personalized guidance through the vast world of remote work,” said Staples. 

Staples goes more in depth about the program, stating, “The trainings are somewhat scheduled but also self paced. The job placement support phase is where there is a lot of variance between participants. Participants get one on one support for the entire program. THIS is, I believe, what has made our program successful!” Staples explained that the cohort size is typically 5-8 students, so, “You’re not alone while trying to navigate the vast world of finding a remote job!” assures Staples.

If what you’re reading is sounding pretty good, and 2022 seems like the year to take the plunge to remote working, you may be wondering about just how to achieve that dream of that perfect job, from that perfect location, in those comfy sweats. (Remember, we aren’t telling you no!)


Rural & Remote is open to anyone residing in the 26 counties of NWK served by EICI. For a complete list, visit

  • Fill out the “contact us” form on the Rural & Remote website ( to get in contact with Staples
  • Read R&R success stories on the blog on their website
  • Follow the R&R social channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram