Survey examines future of rural Kansas

A new statewide survey suggests the future of Kansas’ rural communities hinges on advancing child care, housing and jobs.

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August 5, 2021 - 12:43 PM

The state’s Office of Rural Prosperity worked with the Kansas Sampler Foundation on a statewide survey thta showed young adults in rural Kansas need better job opportunities, housing and child care to keep them from moving to urban areas. (TIM CARPENTER/KANSAS REFLECTOR)

TOPEKA — A statewide survey of ideas for making rural Kansas a more compelling place for young adults to put down roots revealed the need for government investment in expansion of child care options and strengthening of entrepreneurial business pipelines.

The state’s Office of Rural Prosperity worked with the Kansas Sampler Foundation to examine what Kansans aged 21 to 39 thought about recruiting and retaining them in small towns and remote counties suffering depopulation. The foundation drew upon 460 survey responses from all 105 counties and 175 follow-up interviews to identify why people chose to live in rural areas and why it might have been difficult to make that choice.

The report acknowledged significant lack of affordable housing and access to broadband as determinants of the future in rural regions of Kansas. The document recommended local government leaders accept the necessity of forming a “culture of open minds and positivity.” That includes valuing diversity of culture, age, gender and thought, the report said.

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