KEPCo was created to serve the electricity needs of rural Kansas. Enhancing economic development in rural Kansas strengthens business, adds jobs, and creates stability in communities which benefits not only the residents of rural Kansas, but the state as a whole.
KEPCo's economic development program is centered on job creation and wealth retention for rural communities in Kansas. The partnerships KEPCo and its 19 Member Electric Cooperatives have developed with local, state, and federal organizations are evidence of the power of grassroots community development.
KEPCo's most popular economic development program is the zero-interest Rural Economic Development Loan & Grant (REDLG) program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This unique program has enabled business owners and entrepreneurs to access zero-interest loans for use in both existing and start-up businesses. Since its inception, the REDLG program has provided over $70 million in investment in rural Kansas. The unique program enables business owners to create nearly 1,000 new jobs, add new valuation to the property tax base in the counties, avoid $143 million of interest costs, and, in some cases, improve health and safety services to communities. By participating in the REDLG program, a start-up or expanding business can borrow up to 80% of their project cost. Eligible projects must create new jobs in their community. This program was started under the Rural Utilities Service and is available by working through local rural electric cooperatives.
KEPCo continues to be involved with agencies such as the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Kansas Department of Commerce, and the Extension Service at Kansas State University as a sponsor of value-added conferences. The conferences are directed at providing technical information, marketing strategies and the opportunity to network with similar Kansas businesses.
Rural leadership development is also a priority. KEPCo and its Members regularly provide a workshop entitled "Educating Community Volunteers in Community and Economic Development." Through these community-wide meetings, residents are identified who exhibit leadership qualities. These individuals are asked to utilize their natural ability as volunteers within areas of their expertise. This local involvement strengthens the rural communities within the state.