Blog Archives

Increasing Resiliency

Region Working to Recover from COVID-19 Economic Impacts

As the region continues to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCRPC has been working with many communities and organizations to assist with response and recovery.

A large factor in the continuing recovery efforts is an award the NCRPC received from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) in August 2020 to help coordinate a response to the pandemic’s economic effects within the 12 counties the NCRPC serves. The EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant will help support the work of a regional disaster recovery coordinator and provide technical assistance to the business and nonprofit sectors in North Central Kansas as part of an effort to boost the region’s economy.

In November, a full-time Regional Economic Disaster Recovery Coordinator was hired to help coordinate response and recovery.

image about business and nonprofit technical assistance survey

Results of a recently completed survey will be used to customize free training opportunities this year for entrepreneurs, businesses, and nonprofits in North Central Kansas.

To help determine the technical assistance that will be made available in 2021, a brief online survey was conducted. It ended January 15. Results are now being analyzed to customize training topics and tools that will be most beneficial to businesses and nonprofits and increase the region’s resiliency going forward. A Request for Proposals from area consultants who can provide the needed expertise will then be prepared. Additional details will be announced once consultants are in place and schedules are finalized. It is anticipated that free trainings will begin in spring 2021 and go throughout the year.

The NCRPC also continues to partner with Technology Development Institute at Kansas State University to provide businesses and manufacturers in the region with the ability to apply for no cost engineering and business development assistance as part of the Innovation Stimulus Program. More information about the program is available from the Technology Development Institute. Funding for it is also made possible through the EDA CARES program.

We will continue to update our region’s COVID-19 Information and Resources page as needed.

This article appeared in the January 2021 NCRPC Newsletter.

Remote Working

Staff Share Learned Benefits, Tips to Working Remote

The NCRPC and affiliate NCKCN have practiced remote working for select staff for several years. That small group grew in spring 2020 when the office went nearly entirely remote for a number of weeks. As was the case for many offices and organizations, the process of going remote on a large scale was a learning one.

image for breaking the myths about remote working

When staff participated in a virtual meeting in December 2020 as part of the Kansas Beats the Virus Initiative, remote work rose to the top of the list for a group action project. The Kansas Leadership Center launched the initiative in partnership with the State of Kansas to encourage local solutions to help control the spread of COVID-19. Gretchin Staples facilitated the meeting in what ultimately resulted in a social media campaign to break remote work myths based on the personal experiences of staff with remote working.

“Having staff working remotely was not really new to us, but we never explored the remote option any further because it simply did not seem feasible given the nature of our work,” NCRPC Executive Director Emily Benedick said. “As a result of the pandemic, we were suddenly an entirely remote office overnight. As an organization, we learned a ton about the benefits of and tricks to working remote.”

The myth breaking and points of advice were shared on the NCRPC Facebook page in late December and early January. The series covered a wide range of topics including communication, accountability, technology and more. To view the tips, visit the NCRPC Facebook page.

This article appeared in the January 2021 NCRPC Newsletter.

Home Ownership Program Update

Pilot Assisted in the Purchase of 25 Homes in 2020

Financial incentives offered through the NCK Home Ownership Program assisted in the purchase of 25 homes in the region last year.

The pilot program officially expanded to Ottawa and Republic counties in April 2020. It assisted eligible home buyers with down payment and closing cost assistance. The total value of the 25 homes was nearly $3 million, with $300,000 coming from the pilot program. There were 8 homes purchased with program assistance in Ottawa County and 11 homes purchased in Republic County. Another 6 homes were located in counties where the NCK Home Ownership Pilot Program had launched previously.

The NCRPC administered the program offered by its housing non-profit, NCK Housing Opportunities, Inc. The non-profit serves Cloud, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Ottawa, Republic, and Saline counties. An award from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation of Logan, Kansas, assisted in the creation of the loan and grant pool. An award from the Evergy Hometown Economic Recovery Program provided the grant portion of the program for Ottawa County home buyers.

Program data indicate positive local impacts. In a survey of home buyers, 44% were first-time home buyers and 44% also took a job in the last 24 months with one-third of those reporting the program incentive was a factor in their job decision. In addition, 43% were under 30 years of age.

“With the expansion of the pilot program to Ottawa and Republic counties, we continued to see strong interest from individuals with local ties to the region with 62% of home buyers reporting that they graduated from a school in the NCRPC 12-county service area,” Home Ownership Program Manager Debra Peters said. “We were also encouraged by the high percentage of young buyers accessing the program and staking roots in the region.”

A similar home ownership pilot program is underway in Dickinson County. Additional pilot programs have been completed in the City of Marysville and Cloud, Ellsworth, Lincoln and Mitchell counties. Future plans include the expansion of pilot home ownership programs in each of the remaining counties in the NCRPC 12-county service area, pending the availability of funding. Results of the pilot programs will be used to develop a permanent regional home ownership program. Visit the Home Ownership Program page to learn more.

This article appeared in the January 2021 NCRPC Newsletter.