About Emporia

In both its name and history, Emporia, Kansas, has commerce at its core. Now a community of nearly 25,000, the city was founded as a business venture in 1857 and took its name from the Greek word for market, “emporium.” 

Over time, Emporia has evolved from a railroad and cattle town in the early 20th century to a manufacturing hub in recent decades, with successful local startups in wide-ranging industries such as web press printing, food processing, pneumatics, automotive accessories, telecommunications, and finance. 

That historic spirit of entrepreneurism drove local business leaders and investors to develop ValuNet, a next generation fiber network providing gigabit-speed internet to any address in the city, laying the groundwork for new opportunities in business and industry. 

Throughout, the educational anchor provided by Emporia State University has provided a key talent-and-skills pipeline for business growth in the region. And the city’s $100 million reinvestment into its downtown over the last 25 years has bolstered quality of life as well as welcomed the next wave of entrepreneurs creating tech-rich jobs. 

Community partners

  • Ignite Emporia is an aggressive, five-year strategic initiative designed to grow our own, create jobs, retain and expand current business and industries, ensure the readiness of our workforce, and grow our workforce housing. Ignite Emporia is creating newfound synergy, and private and public investment in Lyon County is creating opportunities for everyone from our local school districts to our largest industries
  • Emporia State University is a dynamic and progressive student-centered learning community that fosters student success through engagement in academic excellence, community and global involvement, and the pursuit of personal and professional fulfillment.
What RIN means to Emporia

“The Rural Innovation Network has allowed us to connect with other communities throughout the nation that are leading the way forward for rural sustainability and innovation in the future workspace. These connections and shared knowledge will be vital to the long-term success of our community and many others to thrive in providing a desirable setting for balancing work and life.”

Rob Gilligan, Ignite Emporia

Explore our Network

Today, these local leaders are focused on educating and training local residents in digital skills (especially those traditionally excluded from the tech industry), employing them in new economy jobs, and empowering them to launch startups that will drive a prosperous 21st-century economy. Diverse in geography, economic origin, and demographics, these communities represent the full spectrum of rural America.