Project 17
A Regional Economic Development Initiative

Project 17 Small Business Marketing and E-Commerce Assistance Kickoff Event 11/7

Friday, November 7th, 2014
Creitz Hall – Bowlus Fine Arts Center
205 E Madison Ave. – Iola, KS 66749

For those who grow, produce, process, or manufacture food or agribusiness products or who create unique, locally-produced artisan products in Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Labette, Linn, Miami, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson counties.

This event offers an introduction and potential for ongoing connection to FREE, one-on-one, intensive advice related to e-commerce and more traditional marketing strategies for your products to increase sales and grow your business.

Assistance provided to:
-  Design, strategize, and implement marketing plans and tactics – Strengthen your brand -
-  Create effective website and e-commerce plans – Grow your customer base -


Session 1 – 9:00 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. – For small businesses specializing in food products

Experts on food safety and applicable regulations will be in attendance to help with understanding how regulations impact selling certain products. “From the Land of Kansas” program representatives will also be in attendance to talk about the benefits of marketing Kansas products through their program. Concluding the session, businesses may request consideration for FREE ongoing marketing assistance of their locally produced products.

Session 2 – 1:00 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. – Small businesses focusing on non-food products

Businesses will have the opportunity to hear from a panel of experts and then request consideration for FREE ongoing marketing assistance of their locally produced products.

For questions please email

Project 17 Southeast Kansas Unconference Recap

The inaugural Project 17 Southeast Kansas Unconference took place yesterday, Thursday, October 16th, at the Pittsburg State University College of Technology. The Unconference served as a forum for more than 80 attendees to create their own agenda and discuss topics of interest that are especially pertinent to the project region. Examples of popular issues that stemmed into 15 different breakout discussion sessions include: generational poverty, improving the image of Southeast Kansas, nutrition & health, and business issues like access to capital and assisting start-ups in the community. Most sessions concluded with creating a list of action items to address the issues brought up at the meetings in the hopes of finding future solutions.

Keynote speakers for the day included Ken Brock of Pittsburg, founder and CEO of Names and Numbers, as well as Joe Bisogno, founder of Mr. Goodcents and numerous other businesses. The gentlemen shared their success stories as well as inspirational words of wisdom to anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Overall it was a great day in the project region and we look forward to seeing some ideas from the Unconference come to fruition!

Special thanks to the Unconference Sponsors: NetWork Kansas, Innovative Business Resource Center, and Pittsburg State University.

Thank you also to Think Big Partners and the Project 17 Entrepreneurship Task Team for helping to organize the event.

Finally, a big thank you to the day’s facilitators as well: Dr. Paul Grimes, Dr. Mark Johnson, Dr. Eric Harris, Steve Radley, Keith Meyers, Darrell Pulliam, and Jim Correll

For video coverage of the Unconference can be found here courtesy of KOAM7TV.

For notes from the day, please click here.

Independence Community College Fab Lab Already Changing Lives in Project 17 Region

Amazing, life-changing things are already happening as a result of Independence Community College’s new community fabrication lab. The lab has been used to fabricate, using a 3-D printer, a prosthetic hand to improve the life of a 13-year-old girl, Kara, who lives north of Independence. (Watch the video below to see her receive her new hand!) A friend of the girl’s father, along with two ICC students, created a Cyborg Beast hand for Kara who was born with no fingers on one hand.

Kara’s insurance company had previously denied a request for a $40,000 prosthesis, but Kara says the hand that was made in the ICC Fab Lab will do everything, and even more than, the expensive prosthesis anyway. Kara’s neighbors had been trying to raise money to buy a 3-D printer to make the hand themselves but then heard about the ICC Fab Lab and were invited to use the lab to fabricate the hand. Kara’s family friend and the ICC students started the project last Tuesday. Saturday, he took the completed hand home for a trial fitting and tweaking. Both Kara and her new hand, will be at the grand opening of the Fab Lab on Wednesday.

AMAZING, REMARKABLE, and LIFE-CHANGING. Be sure to watch the video here to see Kara receive her new hand and come on out to the Fab Lab Grand Opening tomorrow, 10/1, to check out the awesome new facility and resources, and meet her in person!


Circles Audio from Pittsburg Kickoff Event

Click the links below to hear Circles USA founder & CEO, Scott Miller, speak about Circles programming at the Pittsburg Kickoff event that took place on September 11th.

Part One

Part Two

2014 Project 17 Southeast Kansas Unconference 10/16

Project 17 is excited to present the inaugural Southeast Kansas Unconference on Thursday, October 16, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Unconference will offer an opportunity for everyone involved with different aspects of Project 17 to come together and discuss whatever topics they feel are pertinent to continuing to progress and make positive changes in the 17-county project region. The event will serve as an annual meeting of sorts, with the rules and agenda set by attendees to entice action and keep discussions interesting, pertinent, and inspiring. A few possible session topics include but are not limited to: Entrepreneurship, Workforce, Business Development, Education, and Healthcare. YOU decide!

Attendees will also get to learn more about Project 17 as a whole and will hear from keynote speakers Ken Brock of Names and Numbers (Pittsburg) and Joe Bisogno, founder of Mr. Goodcents.

The Unconference will take place at the Pittsburg State University College of Technology/Kansas Technology Center located at 909 E. Ford Ave., Pittsburg, KS 66762. General registration pricing is $35 and the student rate is $25. Lunch is included.

For more information and to register please visit: For questions please contact Heather at

The Unconference is proudly brought to you by Project 17, The Innovative Business Resource Center, Pittsburg State University, and NetWork Kansas.

Circles Kickoff Events in Chanute, Ottawa, & Pittsburg: Week of 9/8

Project 17 is partnering with Circles USA to present an exciting introduction to new programming geared toward breaking the cycle of generational poverty in the project’s 17-county region. Kickoff events will take place in three different cities: Chanute, Ottawa, and Pittsburg, during the week of September 8th.

At the kickoff events, community members and the surrounding areas will have a chance to hear from Circles founder and CEO, Scott Miller, to learn about how Circles has worked across the country and how Circles starting in these cities will help equip families and the community to break the cycle of poverty. Through Circles, participants increase their earned income, build assets and lessen their debt burden, increase their self-confidence and skills, create a more qualified workforce, and create a stronger community economy.

Business leaders, human service organizations, the faith community, and the public are all invited to come and learn new ways that will help and complement the great work already going on to assist people with improving their lives and strengthening their families.


Circles Kickoff Event Schedules:

First Baptist Church Good News Center located at 118 N. Forest Ave., Chanute

Session for business leadership and human resource professionals - 3:00-4:30 PM
Sessions for human service organizations, the faith community, & interested citizens/general public - 9:00-10:30 AM & 5:30-7:00 PM

Neosho County Community College Ottawa Campus located at 900 East Logan St., Ottawa
Session for business leadership and human resource professionals - 9:00-10:30 AM
Sessions for human service organizations, the faith community, & interested citizens/general public - 1:00-2:30 PM

Via Christi Chapel located at 1 Mount Carmel Way, Pittsburg
Session for business leadership and human resource professionals - 10:00-11:30 AM 
Sessions for human service organizations, the faith community, & interested citizens/general public - 1:00-2:30 PM


Circles currently exist in eight Kansas communities and more than 60 other communities across the United States. It is through the efforts of committed local volunteers and Project 17 that Circles will be starting soon in Ottawa, Pittsburg, and Chanute. Kickoff event attendees will also learn about Project 17 and statistics about poverty in their own community.

For more information about Circles USA please visit

For questions or more details about these meetings please email Heather Morgan -

To view the official press releases for each location please click the appropriate city name here: Chanute, Ottawa, Pittsburg.

Relevant Websites and Soft Skill Training

Mid-Kansas CAP:                    

SE-KS CAP (SEK-CAP):         

East Central-KS CAP (ECKAN):

Circles USA:                             

Character First Program         

Partners in Change Program 

Basic Employability Skills Training


Soft Skill Programs at Community Colleges

Neosho County Community College- Partners in Change

Designed so participants recognize they are the essential ingredient in their own success.  196 clock hours over the course of six weeks, starting at 2 hours per day and increasing to 8 hours per day.  Participants learn how to better manage their lives by developing personal life skills as well as employment skills.  Areas addressed include:  career planning, job search techniques, professional development and job retention strategies, personal goal setting, value exploration, time management, and increased computer and academic skills.  The workplace training component can include:  workplace communication, workplace math, employability skills, and blueprint reading.  CASAS appraisal determines reading and math levels so instruction can be tailored to meet individual needs.  This is a great boot camp approach for those with the greatest need to improve their employability skills.  People who complete the program will leave the program with a professional cover letter and resume, a Kansas WORKReady! Certificate, opportunity to complete their GED/high school diploma, and follow up services to assist with their transition into the workforce.

For more information visit:  or


Kansas City Kansas Community College FLEET Program

The FLEET (financial literacy, employability skills and entrepreneurship training) program is a flexible skills training program which is developed in both credit and noncredit formats.  Noncredit versions of the program include workshops and extracurricular training opportunities for KCKCC students and community members at little or no charge. An Essential Career Skills course offered for credit through KCKCC is required in all Business degrees and certificates. FLEET programming is offered through the DOL, TAACCCT grant, called T4E (Training for Employment) at KCKCC’s new Technical Center, to help provide a comprehensive support system that facilitate a person’s seamless transition to employment. The FLEET program is based upon research published by Edmiston, Gillett-Fisher and McGarth’s in 2009 entitled “Weighing the Effects of Financial Education in the Workplace.” FLEET is also based on Mid America Regional Council’s research on the soft skills areas of highest value as indicated by regional companies. The FLEET program moves forward on the premise that financial training and soft skills training leads to improved work outcomes.

For more information contact Marvin Hunt at KCKCC at (913) 288-7276 or


Salina Area Technical College (SATC) PSY 100

This soft skills course includes skills needed to remove barriers between people and a better career.  The course explores socio-economic class communication, financial literacy, economic stability, and SMART goal setting.  Highlighted in a process called “How Students Find their HOME@SATC (HOME=helping, outreach, mentor & educate), the participants start with the objectives of getting started, gaining education, and getting a better job.  Participants start by meeting with SATC staff for an individual interview and goal setting.  PSY 100 is 6 weeks in length.   However, participants also meet with SATC’s Outreach Coordinator once a week for up to a year and are matched with an expertise or Resource Mentor who they meet with at least three times over their year of participation.  Participants set goals and utilize their resource mentor to help them remove the barriers between them, furthering their education, or obtaining living wage employment.

For more information contact:  Lara Duran at Salina Area Technical College– 785-309-3169 or visit


Wichita Area Technical College – Global Professional Standards

The Global Professional Standards (GPS) course provides an overview of human relations and professional development in today’s rapidly changing world, and helps prepare students for living and working in a complex society. The 2 credit hour course is interwoven into all of the technical programs.  Specific topics of the course include the skills needed to obtain and retain a job, including the 10 characteristics of global professional standards – Attendance; Character; Teamwork; Appearance; Attitude; Productivity; Time Management; Communication; Cooperation; and, Respect.  During this course, students create a resume and participate in a mock job interview.  Online interactive content has been developed for the course and it is offered as a traditional or online course.

For more information, contact Sheree Utash at (316) 677-9536 or

Basic Employability Skills Training (BEST)

BEST will be available in about six months (early 2015) through the KANSASWORKS Workforce Centers administered by Southeast KANSASWORKS.  This soft skills program will include eight workshop modules focused on the essential skills needed to be successful in the workplace.  The modules include:  Getting a Job; Dependability; Appearance, Health and Wellness; Power of a Positive Attitude; Keeping Your Job; Working with the Public/Customer Service; Effective Communication; and Resolving Conflict.

For more information contact:  Leanne Kehres, Executive Director of Southeast KANSASWORKS at      620-366-0046.

Bridges out of Poverty Training      

Bridges out of Poverty Training  is a non-traditional soft skills program that helps supervisors, business owners, or fellow employees understand the culture of poverty and employee behaviors.  This workshop helps participants develop a better understanding of the driving forces behind the three socio-economic classes and the hidden rules of poverty, middle class, and wealth.  Objectives include:

  • Explore mental models of economic poverty, middle class and wealth and the driving forces of each class.  This can be used to motivate employees and build relationships.
  • Learn the hidden rules of each class in order to better understand and communicate with each other.
  • Explain how economic realities affect patterns of living and how this impacts what an employee brings with them to the job.
  • Understand the causes of poverty in order to build resources for employees.  Identify the eight resources a customer or employee needs to succeed.
  • Identify the eight resources a customer or employee needs to succeed.

Learn about how Cascade Engineering in Grand Rapids, Michigan implemented Bridges out of Poverty in its workplace at:

For more information contact: