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Community Economic Development Program

Envisioning Economic Prosperity for Your Community

What is it?

The Envisioning program for economic development from OLG is a strategic planning and visioning program aimed at creating economic opportunities for Kansas residents in rural communities. The program is designed to work with selected communities to take stock of their social, economic, demographic, and environmental situation and trends. The effort involves convening a broad-based group of community leaders and stakeholders for a multi-session brainstorming effort to assess local strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, and to develop a shared vision and an action plan to achieve short-term and long-term economic development goals.


Why should it be used?

Strategic planning is a tool to help your community use its human, financial, and natural resources effectively. An effective strategic plan, developed with input from internal and external stakeholders, will enable your community to identify and prioritize important goals, increase residents' involvement in the community, and enhance the social capital base. All of this is intended to enhance community economic sustainability and create a high quality of life for residents.

What does it take to make this happen?

To begin the Envisioning process, 45 to 50 elected, business and civic leaders and active community volunteers are required. This group should represent a cross-section of community interests and organizations who will commit to remaining active in the process of implementing the action plan.

Once an application from these community leaders is accepted, OLG professional staff takes 8-10 weeks for preparation and groundwork before the first formal meeting. The four interactive meetings occur over a 4-week period.

Essential Conditions:

Certain conditions are essential to program success. In the near-term, a local facilitator must be identified who will take responsibility to ensure local organizational and logistical arrangements for the program are completed. Over the long-term, some one or more local entities must be willing to commit to work toward implementation of program priorities. These are two critical factors used in the evaluation of prospective program participants.

How much will it cost?

Other than time and motivation, there is no charge to individuals participating in the Envisioning sessions. There is, however, a community sponsorship fee that is set based on the population of the community (2000 or 2010 census), distance from Manhattan, KS (66506) and lodging (if needed). In addition to helping to offset the costs of staff time, materials and preparation for the program, and overnight stay for OLG professional (if required), the sponsorship fee serves to bring additional community investment and involvement into the program.

Although many communities may request that their city commission fund the costs of the Envisioning program, this is strongly discouraged. Instead, we recommend that the steering committee raise donations toward the sponsorship fee through approaching local businesses, civic organizations, church groups, and the local utility company, in addition to a donation from the city commission. It is crucial to the success of the program that there be widespread knowledge of and investment in the program prior to its beginning. Envisioning staff will assist in generating ideas for raising local sponsorships, although the effort is conducted by the steering committee.

Fees are set according to the following three-part formula:

Population: The minimum sponsorship rate is $2,000 for communities with populations of 1,000 or less. For communities over 1,000 the sponsorship increases on a per capita rate as follows:

  • $0.50 per capita additional for populations between 1,000 - 9,999
  • $0.33 per capita additional for populations over 10,000

Travel: In order to offset the high number of trips that Envisioning staff makes to every community, an adjustable sponsorship fee is required for areas participating in the Envisioning program. Typically, a minimum of six trips to the community (often several more) are held to guide the steering committee, assist with logistics, conduct the orientation, program sessions and town meeting, and provide follow-up. The total mileage cost is computed for the actual number round trips to the community at the current KSU mileage reimbursement rate. This amount is added to the base sponsorship rate for the total fee. If the number of trips to the community is significantly reduced through innovative scheduling plans, the travel fee will be reduced accordingly.


Lodging: Since the workshops are held in the evenings, if the distance of the community from Manhattan involves more than 3 hours of driving, the OLG professional will have to stay overnight.

How can I find out more?


Biswa R. Das, Community Economic Development Specialist
Office of Local Government
Department of Agricultural Economics

John Leatherman, Professor and Director
Office of Local Government
Department of Agricultural Economics