The NCRPC was formed in 1972 as a multi-county planning organization headquartered in Beloit, Kansas. In 1980 it was designated an Economic Development District by the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration. Organized with eight counties, today it serves 12 counties and 83 member cities and extends its services to non-profit organizations and businesses.
It has served its members by helping them access more than $235 million to finance infrastructure and housing rehabilitation; more than $30.6 million to improve the energy efficiency of over 11,000 housing units; and more than $65.0 million in project funding to help private sector enterprises. For more than 40 years, the NCRPC has been adapting to the continually changing economic and community development needs of the region. Milestones achieved during its history include the following:
- In 1972, the NCRPC formed as a multi-county planning organization under K.S.A. 12-716 et seq. with its designed headquartered being Beloit, Kansas. The initial membership consisted of eight counties and its early years were devoted to performing land use plans and housing studies for those members.
- In 1979, the NCRPC began administering the Weatherization Program on behalf of the Kansas Energy Office. The eight counties (Cloud, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Ottawa, Republic and Saline) were subjects of the program’s initial focus.
- In 1980, the Weatherization Program service area continued to expand with the addition of two counties (Clay and Washington). Then, in 1984 four more counties (Dickinson, Geary, Morris, Riley and Wabaunsee) were added followed by 18 more in 1986. This latter group was composed of Cheyenne, Rawlins, Decatur, Norton, Phillips, Smith, Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan, Graham, Rooks, Osborne, Wallace, Logan, Gove, Trego, Ellis and Russell counties. At the end of 1986, the total coverage area of the NCRPC Weatherization Program was 33 counties.
- In 1984, the NCRPC created Four Rivers Development, Inc., a non-profit organization, to help structure private business finance. At the time, FORDI focused entirely on programs offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA). It has been instrumental in assisting the NCRPC in its efforts to provide financial services to the region’s business and industry. In 2009 FORDI was dissolved. All business finance services are still offered through the NCRPC and affiliate NCKCN.
- In 1991, the NCRPC created its revolving loan fund, involving $472,000 from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to which it matched $156,000 from donations from area economic development organizations and local banks. By April 2014, this program had loaned $3.2 million to 57 different businesses. This impacted 307 private sector jobs.
- In 1995, the NCRPC created the North Central Kansas Community Network (NCKCN), a 501(c)3 corporation that addressed the growing need for local access Internet within the region. This initiative gained distinction by winning the 1998 HUD John J. Gunther “Best Practices” Award for the Kansas Department of Commerce & Housing, which partially funded the effort, and a 1999 Computerworld-Smithsonian Medal for the NCRPC in the government category for innovative use of technology. Today, NCKCN provides high speed Internet access in 11 counties and 27 cities through a variety of fiber, wireless and dial-up technologies.
- In 2003, the NCRPC furthered its work with the North Central Kansas Public Health Initiative by hiring a coordinator to provide support services in public health emergency preparedness and response planning. Thirteen county health departments form this regional preparedness and response group with the emphasis of their coordinated effort being bioterrorism. This regional planning approach has been endorsed in the Kansas Bio-terrorism Preparedness & Response Plan with funding made available through a grant from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The preparedness grant has changed over the years to now include all-hazard emergency preparedness planning; focusing on health related prevention as well as response and recovery.
- In 2003 and 2004, the NCRPC worked with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Lincoln, Nebraska, to introduce its Home Town Competitiveness (HTC) model of community and economic development to North Central Kansas. Focused on Leadership, Youth Attraction, Wealth Retention and Entrepreneurship Development, the HTC model provides communities with the means to measure progress towards stated goals in those subject areas.
- In 2004, the NCRPC was made the administrative agent for the 2004 Kansas Rural Business Tax Credit Program in North Central Kansas. This program offered access to several hundred thousand dollars through the sale of 50% to 75% state tax credits. The credits existed until 2012 when the legislation was allowed to expire. The funding that resulted was used to grant and loan on projects with targeted leadership development and business support services and feasibility research which created jobs in the region.
- In 2005, the NCRPC began meeting with the Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AMI) based in Manhattan to develop a better working relationship with an EDA University Center in Kansas. The goal has been to create a means by which high order business services offered by AMI can be made better available to rural business and industry. Research was conducted by AMI in 2009 to 2011 regarding clusters and connectivity amongst business and industry in the region.
- In 2005, the NCRPC began hosting and collaborating with Kansas State University on Web sites including the Eye on Kansas (www.eyeonkansas.org) and the Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy (www.ojrrp.org). Eye on Kansas is an online magazine that highlights the people, places and things that make Kansas our home. The Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy was a peer-reviewed, online publication that published academic and community-based research, commentary, and policy articles focused on the Great Plains in a way that is of interest to both academic and community audiences.
- In 2006, the NCRPC began sponsoring a RuralVoices Youth Contest for high school seniors in the NCRPC service area. It was started to engage the region’s young people in thoughtful reflection on rural Kansas and promote a fruitful discussion among citizens based on their insights. Cash awards and publication on the Eye on Kansas Web site (www.eyeonkansas.org) are among the prizes available each year.
- In 2006, the NCRPC was selected by the Kansas Highway Patrol as fiscal agent for the North Central Kansas Regional Homeland Security Council and the Northeast Kansas Regional Homeland Security Council. Kansas has seven Regional Homeland Security Councils that all have a similar mission to support local, regional and statewide all-hazard preparedness while reducing vulnerabilities to natural disasters and terrorist attacks. Each council receives grant funding to help carry out its mission.
- In 2007, the NCRPC was selected as fiscal agent for the Southeast Kansas Regional Homeland Security Council and the Southwest Regional Homeland Security Council, bringing the total regions served to four.
- In 2008, the NCRPC was selected as fiscal agent for the Northwest Kansas Regional Homeland Security Council and the South Central Regional Homeland Security Council, bringing the total regions served to six.
- In the fall of 2011 and early in 2012, NCKCN affiliate to NCRPC , embarked on new technology 3.65 gHz Wi-Max wireless systems in Belleville, Beloit and Lincoln areas.
- In 2013, Kansas Housing Resources Corporation encouraged and the NCRPC executive board approved Marshall and Pottawatomie Counties to be part of the NCRPC Weatherization Assistance Program area after Northeast Kansas Community Action Partnership dropped covering those counties. That increased the NCRPC coverage area to 35 counties.
- In 2013, the NCRPC was allowed to add 3 new eligible counties, Clay, Marshall and Saline into the Revolving Loan Fund program. That made the entire region eligible for the loan pool.