Project 17
A Regional Economic Development Initiative

Project 17 to Hold Poverty Simulation Workshop in Ottawa 12/5

What choices would you make if you did not have enough time or money to meet your needs? Project 17 will provide an opportunity for community members and leaders to ask themselves and help answer this very question at a Poverty Simulation Workshop in Ottawa on Friday, December 5th.

At the workshop participants will discover how they can play a role in breaking the cycle of generational poverty, understand what poverty looks like in the community and region, role-play a month in the lives of low-income individuals and families, explore the impact of poverty, and meet other community members who care. The workshop will also help employers and service providers understand some of the behaviors that they may see in the people they work with and serve. This opportunity will better equip attendees to be catalysts for improving their communities and to recognize how poverty negatively affects the entire community, not just the person in poverty.

Attendees will also be able to consider how awareness, collaboration, and action through the Circles program, coming to Ottawa, Pittsburg, and Chanute on January 1st, can help those in need improve their lives while strengthening their families and community. Through Circles programming, participants increase their earned income, build assets, lessen debt burden, increase self-confidence and skills, create a more qualified workforce, and create a stronger community economy.

The Poverty Simulation will take place Friday, December 5th from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Goppert Center located at 705 W. 15th Street, Ottawa, KS 66067.

For more details about the Poverty Simulation Workshop event or to answer any questions contact Heather Morgan at


Help Grow Kansas Exports!

Learn how to join the global market place and expand Kansas exports when you attend the East Central or Southeast Regional Export Promotion meetings.

East Central Region:  Wednesday, Dec. 10, Ball Conference Center
(21350 W. 153rd St., Olathe)

 *Southeast Region:    Thursday, Dec. 11, Windsor Place Event Center
(102 W. 8th St., Coffeyville)*

The meetings, which will be held from 9:00 am to 11:30 am, are two of six export promotion meetings offered by Kansas Global Trade Services in partnership with the Kansas Department of Commerce.

The six meetings are part of the ExportNow Kansas Program aimed at local companies with export potential.  The program will raise export awareness by connecting communities and companies to export assistance.

Why are these meetings important?  Kansas has enjoyed some export success in the past few years, increasing exports by 26 percent between 2010 and 2013.  But experts say that 83 percent of global GDP growth will occur outside the U.S. by 2018, and Kansas needs to claim a greater share. 

Who would benefit from these meetings?

  • Businesses who produce goods and services suitable for export
  • Local elected and appointed officials
  • Economic development officials

We hope you will consider joining us for this great opportunity.  There is no charge for this event, but RSVPs are required.  E-mail Ella at or call 316-264-5982.

We look forward to seeing you!

Kansas Department of Commerce                                     Kansas Global Trade Services, Inc. Inc.

*In partnership with the Southeast Kansas Economic Development initiative – Project 17



Montgomery County Job Fair 11/20

Businesses are strongly encouraged to attend!


NetWork Kansas Announces 2014 Entrepreneurship (E-) Communities

Awards $325,000 in Tax Credits to Create Local Loan Funds for Entrepreneurs: Now Includes Cherokee County and Girard

NetWork Kansas announced that it has selected four additional Kansas communities to participate in its innovative Entrepreneurship (E-) Community Partnership that emphasizes development of community resources to create a flourishing entrepreneurial environment. The following communities were granted $325,000 in tax credits, enabling them to raise $433,333 to be loaned to local businesses in their community. The 2014 E-Communities are: Cherokee County, Girard, Pawnee County, Riley County/Manhattan.

Select communities will also participate in the E-Accelerator, either as a new initiative or as part of ongoing development. Coordinated by Advancing Rural Prosperity, the E-Accelerator provides practical tools to help growth-oriented entrepreneurs and their communities in rural Kansas.

The E-Community partnership, now in its seventh year, has grown from six communities in 2007 to forty-eight in 2014. The NetWork Kansas E-Community partnership allows a town, a cluster of towns, or an entire county to raise seed money for local entrepreneurs through donations from individuals or businesses within the community. During the first six years of the E-Community partnership, more than $7.9 million have been raised. These funds are estimated to generate more than $41 million of investment in rural businesses across Kansas.

To view the entire news release from NetWork Kansas, please click here.

Post the Positives: Thoughts from the Unconference

Post the Positives

“I recently attended the Project 17 Un-Conference in Pittsburg. It was a very unique conference that formed around the idea of allowing the participants formulate the topics to be discussed throughout the day. Leading into the conference one of the organizers of the event mentioned a news story that had come out that morning about a person who used some very negative, disparaging words to describe several communities in Southeast Kansas. There was an immediate murmur in the room. Some had heard about the news story, others had not. But everyone had the same reaction. They were upset that someone would put us down. Then ideas began to blossom with topics to discuss for the conference. They included, Southeast Kansas Image; Grow Southeast Kansas and filling the workforce skills gap.

During the session on Southeast Kansas Image we talked about our habit of focusing on negative issues in our region such as generational poverty, substance abuse and unemployment. Then it was noted that if we focus on those issues ourselves we shouldn’t be upset with others from outside our area say negative, disparaging things about us.

What we should do is post the positives. Or as Ken Brock, the founder of Names and Numbers said, never give up, have a positive attitude and faith. We need to dream big dreams!

Southeast Kansas has a lot to offer and we need to tell everybody about it. Look at the number of colleges in our area. We are training the workforce for tomorrow. We have young people who are eager to work. We have new and existing businesses that are looking for more employees. There are new opportunities for entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and we are on the leading edge of technology offering broadband services to businesses in our regional to help level the playing field with businesses in metropolitan areas.

The conversation from the conference brought to mind another news story from the past week. It was about a teenage girl who was fighting back against bullies in her school. What she did was take a pad of Post-It notes and wrote positive, inspirational messages on them and stuck the notes to the lockers of other students in her school. It was her way to boost their self-image. Something we can all do for each other in one way or another.” – Murray McGee

via the Chanute Regional Development Authority blog

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.