There’s no question lives have changed over the past several months. Work has evolved as well, which is why Rural & Remote will be focusing on the future of work at its summit later this month.
The Summit, which will take place Thursday, Sept. 23, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Hays, provides an opportunity to learn how remote work is impacting rural communities and the resources for free training available to Northwest Kansas residents. The free event is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Gretchin Staples, Rural & Remote NWKS program coordinator, said 100 participants attended a similar event in 2019. This year, organizers hope to double that amount.
“At that time, the program was brand new,” Staples noted. “Now, the program has been working in Northwest Kansas and we can discuss the opportunities available, but also the successes that we’ve seen and the impact it is having on our region’s economy.”
Rural & Remote is an initiative launched in northwest Kansas in 2019 that offers training for residents of the region to secure professional opportunities in any geographic location while living in the rural area they call home. So far, there have been more than 100 graduates from the program, with 21 professionals placed in remote careers. Currently, there are 15 active job seekers.
Paul Hill, of the Rural Online Initiative in Utah, will be the keynote speaker at the event. Utah’s program is statewide, versus regional-based in Kansas. Staples said Rural & Remote has worked with Hill and the ROI through the program’s educational component.
“The information Paul will share that day will not just be talking about the concept of remote work,” Staples said. “It will be real-world examples and practical, applicable information based upon the results they are seeing.”
Professionals interested in pursuing a remote career are not the only ones encouraged to attend. Economic development professionals and business professionals will also benefit from the day.
“It really is about the future of work,” said Kade Wilcox, Rural & Remote Program Director. “Work as we know it is changing, and Northwest Kansas is not getting left behind. The summit is a great opportunity to walk away with a lot of insight on how to keep up with what’s coming next and how the pandemic is changing the landscape of work."
Breakout sessions will feature additional information about the training available as well as how community members can support and businesses can benefit as well.
Scott Sproul, President/CEO of the Northwest Kansas Economic Innovation Center, Inc. said it’s been exciting to see the multifaceted approach of Rural & Remote help professionals achieve their goals in life, while also providing a trained workforce for companies that are remote from Kansas or in-state companies with remote capabilities.
“Rural & Remote creates economic vitality for our 26-county area because you see it bringing those quality jobs to the area,” said Sproul, noting NWKEICI was the catalyst that brought the Rural & Remote program to northwest Kansas and remains committed to the success of showing rural life and remote work. “It’s really opened up the opportunity for people to do what they are skilled and trained in if those jobs aren’t physically available in our area … it allows them a pathway home,” Sproul said. “Rural & Remote has met its initial goals, and we are now at a point where we see enough success that we can continue to innovate and get better and better.”
The Northwest Kansas Economic Innovation Center, Inc. provides economic and entrepreneurial assistance to businesses in rural Northwest Kansas. The private operating foundation serves 26 counties in the region with a variety of programs. By working with existing businesses or entrepreneurs throughout the coverage area with targeted programs, NWKEICI strives to reverse the outflow of people and businesses from Northwest Kansas. Through its current and future initiatives that extend resources to these businesses and entrepreneurs, NWKEICI hopes to increase population and to foster economic innovation in Northwest Kansas.