Project 17
A Regional Economic Development Initiative

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

KANSASWORKS Independence Office is closed at the Arco building location

As of 1:00 today, February 17, 2015, the KANSASWORKS Independence Office is closed at the Arco building location due to the heater failing. All KW staff have been relocated to Independence Community College West, 1057 West College Ave in Independence, rooms 106 and 110 for the rest of this week, through February 20.  The College phone number is (620) 331-4100, but this is for messages only. If needed, call the KANSASWORKS Center in Pittsburg at (620) 231-4250.

Small Bank in Kansas is a Financial Testing Ground (Cherokee Co.)

via New York Times DealBook article

The redbrick bank in Weir, Kan., in a building cater-corner from the mortuary on Main Street, does not look much like a candidate for the bank of the future.

Inside, an Emerson boombox with a fully extended silver antenna is tuned to KJMK, Classic Hits. The huge steel vault, from the Mosler Safe Company, was used to lock up former owners of the bank overnight during an armed heist in 1959. And the storage room in the back contains an old, unlabeled bottle of brown moonshine.

Beneath these holdovers, though, the Citizens Bank of Weir — or CBW, as it was renamed — has been taken apart and rebuilt, from its fiber optic cables up, so it can offer services not available at even the nation’s largest banks.

The creation of the new bank, and the maintenance of the old one, are the work of a couple who were born in India and ended up in Kansas after living in Silicon Valley and passing through jobs at Google and Lehman Brothers.


To read the entire article please click here.

2015 Farm to School Regional Networking and Training Workshops


Breaking the Barriers: Article on Addressing the Cycle of Poverty 11/30

The climb out of poverty, for many, looks like one step forward, two steps back.

Housing, food, transportation, educational opportunities, healthcare, social circles, spending habits and more are heavily influenced by income, and many individuals who struggle to make ends meet rely on safety nets and other resources to make it all work.

As they begin the climb, a lot of those safety nets begin to fall away, adding to the challenge.

But, for those with dedication, perseverance and a solid support system, the journey into a new lifestyle is possible, just not easy.

Click the following link to read the rest of Sarah Gooding’s article in The Morning Sun, Pittsburg, KS:

Soft Skills Programs Inventory

Click here to view the complete Get a Job, Keep a Job Soft Skills Program Inventory