Driving around rural Kansas, one passes through small towns with classic Main Streets, goes past family farms and sees the lifeblood of our state, agriculture.

Our rural communities are a huge part of Kansas. They not only feed our nation, but are places that people call home. Rural residents care deeply about their towns, their homes and their neighbors. Rural Kansans know how to work together to weather the good times and the bad times.

When many people around the country think of the types of communities they want to create, they end up wanting to create the rural communities that we in Kansas take for granted.

Rural Kansas faces many challenges right now. The population has decreased, businesses have decreased and many have thought to move to other parts of the state or to other states. There is much that we should be doing as a state to help our rural communities to keep them thriving for future generations.

Gov. Laura Kelly has said that rural Kansas is a key part of her agenda and she created a new Office of Rural Prosperity led by Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers. This office has issued a report that has many nice photos from the lieutenant governor’s listening tour and reiterates much of what we already know. But it lacks much of a forward-thinking agenda for rural Kansas. Seems like this listening tour was more to listen for ways to forward the governor’s predetermined ideas rather than seek out new ideas.

Rural Kansas needs tax policies that are designed to help farmers, help business owners and help keep residents in their homes. This includes ending our record sales tax on food and reducing our state’s property tax burden, the 18th highest in the country.

We need a comprehensive rural broadband strategy. This will increase connectivity for rural communities, make it easier for people to telecommute and allow small Main Street businesses seek out new customer bases worldwide.

This will also help bring the innovation economy to rural Kansas. We are seeing the innovation sector grow in Johnson County and this success can be shared with our entire state, as long as we provide the infrastructure needed to succeed.

Besides broadband, we need to make sure our state’s highways are well maintained and upgraded as needed across our state. This will allow goods to get to market faster and allow for travelers to get to rural communities. We also need to work hard to recruit doctors and teachers to rural Kansas.

We need to revamp our state’s film and television program and reduce the barriers to entry for filmmakers in order to make it more attractive for the entertainment industry to film in Kansas towns. Instead of heading to Canada, it would be great for Kansas City’s own Hallmark to be filming in places like Lindsborg, Cottonwood Falls and St. John.

We need a comprehensive marketing and branding strategy for our state that encompasses not just business recruitment but also tourism.

Rural Kansas needs strong leadership and a strong vision for the future. Our rural communities need leadership that will work with local stakeholders and grow our communities and continue to make them great places to call home.

Wink Hartman is the CEO of the Hartman Group of Companies in Wichita and the 2018 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.