Project 17
A Regional Economic Development Initiative


THRIVE ALLEN COUNTY is seeking a COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE EDUCATOR to lead our Chronic Risk Reduction grant from Kansas Department of Health and Environment. This position coordinates tobacco cessation/prevention, physical activity and nutrition work. Duties include promotion, coalition building and participation, reports, some travel, advocacy and policy work. Qualifications include BA/BS or greater, creativity, optimism, thick skin and a belief that Allen County’s best days are ahead of us. Allen County residency required within 6 months. Resumes accepted until July 10. Full time with competitive wages and benefits. Please send resume to 12 W. Jackson, Iola, KS 66749.

Five community organizations in Kansas have been awarded grants of $250,000

Five community organizations in Kansas have been awarded grants of $250,000 each through the Community Engagement Initiative to support resident-created and resident-led efforts to improve health.

These organizations will work with residents to identify barriers to better health and create a plan to address them by—among other goals—improving access to quality education, healthy affordable foods and safe places for recreation.

To see the grantees and learn more about this program, please see the official news release.

Fort Scott Circles is about improving lives

Friday, June 5, 2015

Jean Tucker and Diana Endicott spoke Wednesday at the Bourbon County Coalition monthly meeting about Fort Scott Circles, which started this year.

Circles is a strategy that promises an enduring solution to ending poverty.

“It’s to help those who are struggling to survive,” Tucker said. “Through education and encouragement…Maybe someone who just lost a job, or just got a divorce and their income reduced, someone who has a serious disease. Maybe its situational poverty, not generational poverty.”

Tucker is a leader for supplying the meal component of Fort Scott Circles.

New session Sept. 1, with changes

A new session is starting Sept. 1 and will move to Tuesday evenings, but will still be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The location will also change to Community Christian Church. A free meal, child care and transportation will still be provided as needed.

Also new, Jan Hedges will assume the position of leader of the local program.

“I’ll remain as facilitator and will be coordinator and coach for Fort Scott Circles initiative,” Hedges said in an interview with the Tribune.

Other facilitators who meet weekly with the participants are Endicott, David Goodyear and William James Schafer.

Currently the group meets on Wednesdays at the First Methodist Church.

Seeking new participants

Endicott asked the coalition members to nominate people that participate in their helping agencies that would benefit from the program.

“We are begging you to help us find people,” Endicott said. “The more people have, the more they can support each other. If two people have the strategies and skills to help themselves, then they help one another. We are hoping your agencies can help us find people who are interested in bettering their situation. It offers such a great support system.”

Presenters are also needed from the community to present life skill lessons in the coming months, Tucker said.

How does Fort Scott Circles work?

The main question asked those who show interest in the Circles program is “How badly do you want to change your situation?” Tucker said. “Are you drug or alcohol dependent? If the answer is yes, are you in treatment? Also we ask if you have anything that would work against your improving your life?”

The process then starts with three months of weekly meetings, then transitions to meeting with a community volunteer mentor, called an Ally, for 18 months to encourage and help resolve issues.

Along with the meetings, child care, a weekly dinner and transportation are provided to participants.

The first Fort Scott Circles group of participants are winding down the current 12-week curriculum. Endicott has been a weekly facilitator of this first session of Fort Scott Circles. Five participants started, three will graduate, Hedges said.

During these meetings those in poverty, called Circle Leaders, work to develop a plan to lead themselves out of poverty.

“The biggest obstacle is getting Circle Leaders who want to make a change,” Endicott said. “Some don’t want to work that hard, some don’t have the support to change.”

Weekly Circles meeting

“We start each meeting with a good and new comment,” Endicott said. “What is something good and what is something new that has happened in your life in the last week. Then a class lesson, some listening pairs, group discussion, a class take-away to work on throughout the week. We end with appreciations. Where everyone in the room tells what they appreciate. So we begin and end with a positive.”

Week one lesson was defining poverty.

“How we look at food, that type of thing,” Endicott said.

How food is looked at depends on income level, Tucker said. For those in poverty, quantity is desired; for those of middle income, quality is desired; for those in the upper income level, presentation of food is desired.

Another example is how people look at money, Tucker said.

For those with lower incomes, money is something to spend; with middle incomes, money is to be managed; for those with upper incomes, money is something to be invested.

Week two’s lesson is thriving in life versus surviving. Discussions center on how to move forward and what to leave in the past.

Week three’s lesson is starting to develop a plan to move forward.

Week four’s lesson is building a community for success in moving forward with your plan.

Week five is building strong, positive relationships.

Week six is learning how to make attainable goals.

Week seven is a diversity lesson.

Week eight is succeeding at school or the workplace.

Week nine, developing a Circles plan.

The plan includes a monthly expense goal, a monthly income goal, career and educational goals, determining who will be their Ally, and “how you will become a contributor in the community,” Endicott said.

Week 10, is looking at the big view: affordable housing, childcare and transportation.

Week 11 and 12 are preparing for the future.

After week 12, Allies are assigned to encourage and help solve issues that come up.

Allies meet with Circle Leaders two times a month. Once a month for 18 months, a community speaker will give a presentation to the group on life skills.

For information regarding the next Fort Scott Circles session, call My Father’s House at (620) 223-2212 or email

For the story on the Fort Scott Tribune click here

Innovation Summit Schedule

When Main Session
Woods Community Room
Breakout Session 1
Woods Community Room
Breakout Session 2
Room 101
Breakout Session 3
Fri., May 1
7:00 a.m.
Registration/Set up

ICC West

7:30 a.m. –
8:25 a.m.
ICC Business Leaders Spotlight
Clifton Taulbert
Entrepreneurial Topics;
U.S. and World
8:30 a.m. –
9:00 a.m.
2015 Innovation Summit
9:00 a.m. –
9:05 a.m.
Welcome by ICC President Dan Barwick
9:10 a.m. –
9:50 a.m.
Rodney Walker
Education and Entrepreneurship
9:50 a.m. –
10:00 a.m.
10:00 a.m. –
10:45 a.m.
Jorge Zuniga –
Taming the Cyborg
Beast (Hand)
Mike Niedenthal
Lean Innovation
Scott Kreshel
Blue Valley CAPS
Student Projects
11:00 a.m. –
11:45 a.m.
Monte Coffman –
Innovations in Health Delivery
11:45 a.m. – Chicken Mary’s begins serving
12:10 p.m. – Welcome and Introduction (lunch in progress)
12:15 a.m. –
1:00 p.m.
Clifton Taulbert
Entrepreneurial Thinking in the New Economy
1:10 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Todd Allison &
Linden Dalecki on Implementing
Innovation Engineering
Tony Russell &
Bob Wallentine
KS FiberNet
Toby Lavine
Kansas Aviation
Character Culture
2:10 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Building Fab Lab –
Tim Haynes
Jim Correll
Imagene Harris
Network Kansas,
Terry Trout
Main Street
3:10 p.m. – 3:20 p.m. Closing and Announcements
3:35 – 5:00 p.m. Fab Lab ICC After Party and Tour

For presentation and speaker information visit or email

NetWork Kansas to Host Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Events April 29 & May 6, 2015

Wichita, Kansas, April 1, 2015 — NetWork Kansas‘ second annual Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge series will bring together students from across northwest Kansas and southeast Kansas to compete for more than $10,000 in total prize money on April 29 in Columbus, KS and May 6 in Leoti, KS. The Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge features a business plan tradeshow, elevator pitches, and formal business presentations.

Guest speakers will showcase notable young entrepreneurs: Mike Bosch, CEO of Reflective Group and Pipeline Fellow; Zach Haney, CEO of Carnival Guy and named one of America’s top young entrepreneurs.

The Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge is an innovative entrepreneurship battle that highlights entrepreneurship as a viable career path for students and facilitates learning and fun.

After competing in one of eleven local-level competitions held in the two qualifying regions, students can apply to advance to this regional showcase.

The Northwest Kansas Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge is open to students in grades 7-12 who live in a northwest Kansas Entrepreneurship (E-) Community who have participated in one of seven qualifying local competitions held in Bird City, Phillips County, Rawlins County, Sherman County, Thomas County, and Wichita County between February and April. Northwest Kansas E-Communities include: Bird City, Ellis County, Greeley County, Phillips County, Norton County, Rawlins County, Scott County, Sherman County, Thomas County, and Wichita County.

The Southeast Kansas Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge is open to students in grades 7-12 who live in a southeast Kansas Entrepreneurship Community who have participated in one of four qualifying local competitions held in Altamont, Cherokee County, Girard, and Humboldt. Southeast Kansas E-Communities include: Altamont, Anderson County, Chautauqua County, Cherokee County, Coffeyville, Girard, Humboldt, Linn County, and Northern Montgomery County.

The competition is hosted by NetWork Kansas as part of their 48-community E-Community Partnership. The E-Community Partnership is dedicated to increasing entrepreneurial activity and developing self-sustaining ecosystems favorable to long-term entrepreneurial growth. NetWork KansasAT&T, Joplin Regional PartnershipColumbus Telephone & Optic CommunicationsMidwest EnergyWheatland Electric/Wheatland Broadband, Sunflower Electric, and The Bank are proud sponsors of the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.

All participants will display a business plan booth, present their entrepreneurship idea to judges, and participate in elevator pitches. Students who advance to the final round will present their business plan in a formal presentation to a panel of judges and the audience. A total of $5,000 in prize money will be awarded at each event, including $2,500 for first place, $1,250 for second place, and $750 for third place, and other awards.

Opportunities still exist for businesses to sponsor the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. Interested businesses or organizations should contact Anne Dewvall at

For more information, contact Anne Dewvall at or visit:

Kansas Innovation Summit

Project 17, in conjunction with the Independence Community College and The Innovative Business Resource Center would like to invite you to this year’s Kansas Innovation Summit. The summit will be held from 8:30AM to 3:05PM on May 1st, 2015 at Independence Community College’s West Campus and will feature speakers showcasing innovation and entrepreneurship.  Guest speakers include Pulitzer prize winning author Clifton Taulbert, Jorge Zuniga, and Rodney Walker.  Other local entrepreneurs and innovators will also share their stories. Adult registration including lunch is $50. Please see the details provided below and register soon because space is limited.  Register here


Project 17 Quality of Life Video Contest Winner Announced

Project 17 is pleased to announce the winners of a video contest that was held to promote all the reasons why it is great to live in Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Labette, Linn, Miami, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson, and Woodson counties. Video entries focused on all of the positive aspects that contribute to a great quality of life in these 17 counties. The goal of the Project 17 Quality of Life Video Contest was to strengthen a sense of belonging and highlight all of the unique attributes that make this region great. Judges were looking for videos that showed a personal attachment to the area that communicated to others why this region is such an amazing place. Entries shared what they liked about living in the Project 17 region to help spread the word to others that, “This is where youbelong!” or, “You ought to come back to the area because great things are happening!”

 Eureka High School
WINNER- Eureka High School

Project 17 Economic Development meeting releasing Regional Skills and Labor Shed Study Results

Hello all, I am pleased to announce that the skill shed analysis for the Project 17 region has been completed by the Docking Institute at Fort Hays State University.  They surveyed the region over the past few months (phone by land and cell phone line) to complete the study.  I know the results are important and a valuable tool as people across the region work to help businesses expand and attract new businesses to the region.  Additionally, it is a good workforce analysis too.  This analysis is not a traditional labor shed analysis therefore it will be important to walk through the results together.   Therefore, we are scheduling a meeting to go over the study and discuss results.  The meeting to discuss the results will be held on March 12th from 10 to noon in Chanute in the Alliance Room at the Municipal building-101 South Lincoln Avenue, Chanute, KS 66720​.  The study will not be publicly released until after this meeting.  Thanks so much and look forward to seeing you soon.  Feel free to share this meeting invitation with anyone you think may be interested in this topic. 



Labette County youth entrepreneur is working to enhance farming industry!

Updated: Feb 17, 2015 6:24 PM CST ;Tuesday, February 17, 2015 7:24 PM EST

Cherokee County Youth Entrepreneur Fair to Take Place on February 25th

Cherokee County Economic Development and the Cherokee County E-Community will host the first annual Cherokee County Youth Entrepreneur Fair on Wednesday, February 25th at Columbus Unified High School, 124 S. High School Ave., Columbus, KS.  Twelve (12) teams of high school students representing the Baxter Springs, Columbus, and Southeast School Districts will present their business concepts with a written business plan, a 2-3 minute elevator pitch to judges, and a tabletop display.

Students will be competing for more than $2,500 in cash prizes courtesy of the following sponsors: American Bank of Baxter Springs, ATEC Steel, B & B Discount, CBW Bank, Cherokee County Economic Development (1st Prize), Columbus Telephone Company/Optic Communications, Commerce Bank (3rd Prize), Empire District Electric Company, Farmer’s Cooperative Association, Jay Hatfield Companies (2nd Prize), Shelter Insurance – Richard Hilderbrand, University Bank, and Wolkar Drug.

“We are excited that so many students will be competing and hope that this event gives them the encouragement they need to launch their ventures,” says Economic Development Director Janet Miller.

The public is invited to view student displays and visit with entrants in the CUHS cafeteria starting at 3:15 pm. They are also welcome to stay for the awards presentation which will take place at approximately 4:00 pm.

For more information on the Youth Entrepreneur Fair, contact Cherokee County Economic Development Director Janet Miller at 620-762-0717 or