Blog Archives

NCKCN Extending High Speed Internet Access in Rural Areas

Image of laptop computer and technology

Expansion of high speed wireless internet is underway in four North Central Kansas counties and will be completed by the end of December.

NCKCN, a broadband internet service network covering North Central Kansas, is extending its high-speed wireless internet to pockets of unserved and underserved broadband areas in four North Central Kansas counties. NCKCN is a 501(c)3 affiliate of the NCRPC.

“The need for high speed, high quality broadband internet affects the most critical aspects of our rural counties,” NCKCN System Administrator Todd Tuttle said. “Educational institutions, economic development and commerce, population growth and medical services all rely heavily on every resident or household having access to reliable internet services.”

The expansion project includes portions of Cloud, Jewell, Mitchell and Republic counties. It will increase internet connectivity for rural residents and businesses in areas where accessing quality high speed internet is difficult. NCKCN is building a hybrid fiber-wireless solution to provide customers with fast, affordable, low latency internet access with no data caps. To see a map of the newest available coverage areas, visit

NCKCN is collaborating with Cunningham Telephone & Cable (CTC) to extend broadband to these underserved areas by leveraging CTC’s neighboring fiber network. NCKCN and CTC are both local North Central Kansas companies that have a long history of providing internet solutions for the region.

The new service offers internet speeds of up to 50x25Mbps to residents and businesses. New customers in the expansion area who sign up for service will receive free installation and a wireless router. This project is an extension of NCKCN’s proven fixed wireless deployment, which it has offered since the early 2000s.

“The rise of COVID-19 has made it more apparent than ever that residents in our region need access to high speed internet,” Tuttle said. “We are pleased to expand our services to help meet that need.”

The expansion project is already underway and will be completed by the end of December.

This project is made possible, in part, through a Connectivity Emergency Response Grant, which was created to address the increased need for internet connectivity in Kansas in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was awarded as part of the state’s Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Economic Development and Connectivity grant application process made available from federal CARES Act funding.

To learn more or sign up for service, call 785-738-2218 or visit NCKCN.

This article appeared in the November 2020 NCRPC Newsletter.

Updated Kansas Wealth Transfer Study Shows Opportunity for Local Charitable Giving

Keep 5 in Kansas program logoA recently updated study on the transfer of wealth in Kansas presents an opportunity to communities of all sizes for local charitable giving.

The Center for Economic Development and Business Research, part of the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University, first completed a transfer of wealth study for Kansas in 2007 and updated it in 2012 and 2019. This study estimated future intergenerational wealth transfer for each county in Kansas. The transfer of wealth is an estimate of the household estate wealth transferred from the current generation to the next.

The most recent study indicates the following:

  • $67.7 billion will be transferred from one generation to the next in the state of Kansas from 2020 to 2025.
  • $3.4 billion or 5 percent could be preserved in community foundation endowments.
  • $1.2 trillion will be transferred in the state within the next 50 years (2020 to 2070).

The Keep 5 in Kansas initiative is one tool the Kansas Association of Community Foundations (KACF) uses to promote the importance of planned, charitable giving to local community foundation endowments. The concept is that by capturing a portion of the wealth being transferred — just 5% of an estate — will go a long way toward helping to ensure a community’s future. This can provide communities with a permanent source of endowed funding to support local projects such as economic development, local non-profits, schools, churches, public beautification and other community needs.

“Kansas community foundations are leading an effort to ensure the state’s transfer of wealth is preserved and invested in communities across Kansas,” Svetlana Hutfles, KACF Executive Director, said.

To learn more about the updated transfer of wealth study or Keep 5 in Kansas, visit the Kansas Association of Community Foundations.

This article appeared in the November 2020 NCRPC Newsletter.

Project Spotlight: City of Hope Improves Water Distribution System

Image of City of Hope water tower

A project to improve the water distribution system in the southern Dickinson County City of Hope was completed earlier this year. New waterlines were installed and the water tower was painted and repaired.

Having a safe and dependable water system is necessary for any community. The City of Hope recently completed a project to improve its water distribution system that will benefit current and future residents for many years.

Like many rural communities across Kansas, the City of Hope was faced with an aging water distribution system. The original system in Hope was made up of cast iron pipe that was installed in 1916. Improvements had been made over the years as needed. However, maintenance was becoming increasingly difficult and expensive due to the age and condition of the system. Line breaks were frequent and water loss high.

Recognizing the substantial cost involved with replacing the existing cast iron water mains, the city explored possibilities for funding assistance. In 2018, the city was awarded a $600,000 grant through the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). The CDBG program is administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The city also provided a substantial project match of nearly $1.2 million, which it secured through a USDA Rural Development loan.

The project included the installation of approximately 23,200 lineal feet of new PVC water mains, 5,600 lineal feet of water service lines, as well as new valves, fire hydrants, and an updated metering system. Water tower painting and upgrades were also completed.

NCRPC staff provided project planning assistance and administration. Other key partners involved with the project include general contractor J & K Construction LLC and project engineer BG Consultants, Inc.

Since project completion earlier this year, the city has experienced lower water loss and fewer issues. “It has been a positive change and it was way overdue,” Mayor Larry Ryff said. “The community seems very thankful and happy that there has been less interruptions with the new system.”

Ryff has advice for other communities considering options for their own water improvement projects. “You definitely need determination and patience with the process,” Ryff said. “Infrastructure is a very important component to any community.”

For more information about the funding sources used for this project or to discuss a project funding need, contact the NCRPC Community Development staff.

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. The Project Spotlight series features projects around the region to share ways communities have solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit

This article appeared in the November 2020 NCRPC Newsletter.

Loan Fund Available to Help North Central Kansas Businesses

NCK Business Relief Loan Program LogoA new NCK Business Relief Loan Program is now available to assist North Central Kansas businesses adversely impacted by COVID-19.

The U.S. Department of Commerce through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will provide $1.1 million of funds, which will be administered by the North Central Regional Planning Commission.

The new program provides loans on favorable terms to businesses for response and recovery needs due to the COVID-19 crisis. For-profit businesses in Clay, Cloud, Dickinson, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Marshall, Mitchell, Ottawa, Republic, Saline, and Washington counties are eligible for the program. Loan funds may be used for operating capital/inventory and asset purchases needed to pivot operations/increase productivity. Funding requests for the program are being accepted on qualified applications on a first come, first served basis until funds are exhausted or the program ends on December 31, 2021.

Funding for the new program comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. To qualify for the 2020 EDA funding, North Central Regional Planning Commission needed to have a history of operating a successful fund, which it met as a result of receiving similar EDA loan funding in 1990. The original fund began with $667,000 and has grown to nearly $1 million today.

The loan fund will become a permanent tool to assist businesses in North Central Kansas and will not be COVID-specific in the future.

“The NCK Business Relief Loan Program will help provide support to businesses still being impacted by the pandemic,” NCRPC Business Finance Director Debra Peters said. “In addition, our region will benefit from this fund for many years.”

To learn more, contact Debra Peters at 785-738-2218 or visit the the NCK Business Relief Loan Program page.

This article appeared in the November 2020 NCRPC Newsletter.