KEPCo was created to serve the electricity needs of rural Kansas. Enhancing economic development in rural Kansas strengthens businesses, 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 efforts are centered on job creation and wealth retention for rural communities in Kansas. The partnerships KEPCo and its 16 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, which targets communities of less than 50,000 residents, 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 $40 million in investment in rural Kansas and over 1,200 jobs have either been created or saved. Additionally, the program has added new valuation to the property tax base in the counties where the loans have been used, avoided $143 million of interest costs, and, in some cases, improved health and safety services to communities. By participating in the REDLG program, a new 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 USDA’s Rural Utilities Service and is available by working through local rural electric cooperatives. Importantly, interested business do not need to be a member of an electric cooperative to apply for a loan.
KEPCo also offers to its 16 member electric cooperatives an incentive for the members to attract new load or expand existing load through KEPCo’s Economic Development Rider. Specifically, the Economic Development Rider is available for new retail load or an increase in the load requirements of existing retail customers. This Rider is applicable to new load with a demand of 50 kilowatts or more and with a load factor of 50% or higher. The Rider provides credits to members to be passed on to the retail customer in declining increments over a 60-month period.
Please contact your local KEPCo member cooperative for additional information about KEPCo’s Economic Development Rider.
KEPCo continues to be involved with agencies such as the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Kansas Department of Commerce, the Extension Service at Kansas State University, and local, regional, and state Chambers of Commerce as a sponsor of value-added conferences. The conferences are directed at providing technical information, marketing strategies, and opportunities to network with Kansas businesses to encourage growth in rural Kansas.
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.