PITTSBURG, Kan. — Pittsburg State University announced a $330,000 grant on Monday to help develop a science and research park. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The money will allow the university to develop a plan to find commercial products from the scientific and technical research already underway at the Kansas Polymer Research Center, based at PSU’s Tyler Research Center.
Securing the grant was a cooperative effort by the university; the city of Pittsburg; SEK, Inc., a regional development effort; and Project 17 — a 17-county economic development initiative started a few years ago in Southeast Kansas.
Shawn Naccarato, executive director of the Center for Innovation and Business Development at PSU, said the grant is a vote of confidence in the university’s role in the economic development of the region.
Pittsburg Assistant City Manager Jay Byers said Monday that the grant would help define and set priorities as the community searches for ways to develop commercial products based on the work underway or planned at Tyler Research Center. The city has set aside vacant land surrounding the center for economic development associated with it.
“The purpose is to not only take an inventory of what markets are there for the kinds of research we’re doing here, but to see where can we take this research and actually apply it to a market and commercialize it, turn it into a business,” Byers said. “That’s where it becomes interesting for Pittsburg and the region — to actually build a company based on that research.”
“Say we find some interesting material that can be developed using soybeans, then we could say, ‘How could that product be produced and taken to market ?’ We find local resources to invest in manufacturing that product and the next thing you know a plant is being built in our industrial park.”
Project 17 Executive Director Heather Morgan said the grant and the research park will have a dramatic impact on the Southeast Kansas economy.
The first step will be to analyze the region’s capabilities in areas such as advanced manufacturing, polymers, automotive technology, wood technology, construction technology, electronics and robotics, casting and metallurgy and graphics imaging and packaging — all programs that have been offered via the Kansas Technology Center for years, and at several area companies.
The study also will determine the scientific and technical nature of innovations likely to be generated in the region and will identify sites required for them to be tested. The plan developed from this information will include recommendations for how the public, private and academic sectors can work together to identify business opportunities.
In the final phase, a design consultant will create building and site plans, as well as recommendations and specifications for equipment. The design will use renewable energy and green design practices.
All three phases of the study are expected to be completed by September 2016.
“We would much rather grow a business that has local ties — people from here, people here to do research, people who are investing here — who really want to stay in region and aren’t going to leave us when their incentives are gone. We are trying to take more control of our economic development destiny.”
— Pittsburg Assistant City Manager Jay Byers
With crayons pressed between their fingertips, city and county commissioners illustrated their visions for the new economic development park in a Wednesday joint meeting.
John Divine, acting as facilitator, employed various brainstorming tactics to foster conversation among the community leaders. His talking prompts centered on envisioning future growth of the community on the 300 acres acquired for new development.
After emptying their boxes of crayons, the commissioners drew several scenes: cars on their ways to work in the morning, dollar bill signs, bicycles on trails, restaurants, new housing, airplanes and other depictions of Ottawa and Franklin County’s possible future.
“Our quality of life is why people stay here,” Sara Caylor, Ottawa city commissioner, said. “If we continue to reinvest in our quality of life, people will stay.”
Divine said establishing expectations will give direction to the land without limiting opportunities. He asked commissioners what types of businesses they would like to see in the area.
“You can’t go out there and just pick, but at the same time you can direct,” Divine said.
There was consensus among several commissioners that a variety of businesses would allow for different levels of jobs. Rick Howard, Franklin County commissioner, said individuals with degrees should be able to work alongside recent high school graduates looking to start a career. At the same time, Linda Reed, city commissioner, said offering a living wage is necessary.
“If somebody wanted to come in and take the whole park, but they only pay minimum wage, I’d say no because I don’t think that would help us,” Reed said.
Narrowing in on the types of desired businesses, Steve Harris, county commissioner, said the location of the new park provides opportunity for a manufacturing business, but there also is potential for research and development companies. Shawn Dickinson, city commissioner, said homegrown businesses might be more likely to stay in the area.
Randall Renoud, county commissioner, said he was concerned with the effects on the community if a large industry were to leave, but several smaller businesses might not optimize job opportunities.
Based on the comments, Divine tied the threads of conversations by concluding that commissioners prefer welcoming companies that have the potential to grow.
Before concluding, Richard Nienstedt, Ottawa city manager, said he wanted to know what commissioners don’t want in the development park.
Harris said minimum wage-paying jobs and unattractive buildings are unwelcome. Colton Waymire, said he doesn’t want to bring in an industry that smells.
Commissioners also discussed flexibility in building design, wide-spread marketing of the land, name of the development park, incentives for businesses, amount of infrastructure needed and passage of the penny sales tax — all pieces expected to come together as they move forward. The partnership between the city and county to develop the land is all in an effort to advance the community, Divine said.
Divine asked the question on the minds of commissioners and community members: How soon can something happen?
“I think it’s happening now,” Howard said.
Moving forward, commissioners are slated to visit development parks in Riverside, Missouri, Lawrence and Topeka come August where they will see examples of parks and arrive prepared with specific questions.
“What do we not know that we need to know?” Harris said.
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 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.
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 email@example.com.
For the story on the Fort Scott Tribune click here
For presentation and speaker information visit www.InnovateKansas.org/summit or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Kansas, AT&T, Joplin Regional Partnership, Columbus Telephone & Optic Communications, Midwest Energy, Wheatland 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 email@example.com.