Jeremy W. Hegle, a native Missourian, was 12 when he began helping on his grandfather’s farm. He later served in the Army National Guard, launched a business support organization and now is a senior community development advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. In each endeavor, he's tapped into his passion for helping others.
“Shortly after I joined the Bank,” Jeremy said, “I heard President Esther George speak to a community group and stress that the economy should work for everyone. I’ve internalized this as being at the core of all of our community development initiatives.”
Jeremy implements community development investment, small business and workforce development initiatives in Kansas and western Missouri. He also leads the Bank’s digital equity efforts across the seven-state Tenth District.
In 2017 Jeremy heard a growing concern in the community: a lack of computers and skills to use them, along with lack of access to affordable broadband, was hurting communities. The effect was felt across many fronts: education, job prospects and rural development, to name a few.
He spent most of 2018 investigating the “digital divide.” In 2019 Jeremy co-authored Disconnected: Seven lessons on fixing the digital divide. The publication, a layperson’s overview of the digital divide, builds on perspectives from more than 160 community leaders from across the country. It offers a primer on broadband access, economic impact, and solutions communities can use to narrow the digital divide.
Today, Jeremy leads efforts to narrow the digital divide using three strategies:
- Expanding access to affordable home broadband. External LinkCollaborating with state broadband directors, federal agencies, local government on broadband deployment strategies and increased access through External Linkaffordable internet programs.
- Increasing the supply of low-cost computers. Encouraging employers to External Linkdonate their used computers to nonprofit refurbishers, schools and community organizations.
- External LinkInforming banks, foundations, government and policymakers of the complex factors that cause the digital divide, the latest research on the topic, and creative solutions to fix it.
Jeremy, who has worked in community development for 19 years, has been at the Kansas City Fed for six years. Previously, he helped launch KCSourceLink, a small-business support organization that links thousands of entrepreneurs with resources to start, grow and accelerate their businesses. Jeremy also expanded the business model to other regions and consulted with nonprofits and national and international government agencies on how to make entrepreneurship easier. In that role, he began working with the Kansas City Fed’s community development staff to co-host entrepreneurship programs and eventually joined the team.
He also spends his downtime helping the community, serving on the board of Digitunity, a national organization that helps get computers to those who need them. Previously, he started a running program for residing kids at Cornerstones of Care’s Gillis Campus. In the spring and fall, he coached and ran three days a week with the children, building them up to run 5K road races.
“Finishing the 5K races gives them a great sense of accomplishment,” he said. “It’s a very rewarding experience to be part of.”