Project 17 Wins Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge

Funding To Promote Innovation and Economic Opportunities in Southeast Kansas

The Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge winners were announced today to help spur job creation and economic growth in rural regions across the country.

Project 17 was one of 13 national awardees to receive a Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant and will receive a $715,000 grant to help revitalize the manufacturing industry in Southeast Kansas to promote economic opportunities.

The Rural Jobs Accelerator Challenge is a national initiative to support rural partnerships that are critical to support small businesses. By leveraging local assets, the selected industry clusters and partnerships can do even more to help entrepreneurs and small businesses foster innovation, increase competitiveness and employ highly skilled workers, all of which are critical to long-term economic growth in their regions.

Project 17 will receive a $215,000 grant from USDA Rural Development and $500,000 from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help promote job creation, accelerate innovation and provide assistance to entrepreneurs and businesses.

“USDA Rural Development is pleased to provide financial support, in concert with EDA, to this locally-led, regional planning effort. The state and local support help capture the federal funds to finance this multi-county, multi-community collaboration,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Patty Clark. “Regional planning will help create more opportunities for the skilled workforce, a higher quality of life for residents and a brighter future for the individuals and families that choose to call Southeast Kansas home.”

The three-year project will create a shared regional vision and an asset-based development approach to spur job and wealth creation through the development of the Southeast Kansas Opportunity Innovation Network. The network will assist with mapping regional assets, profiling the innovation capabilities of businesses, and connecting businesses with innovation resources.

“Through comments from 300 Southeast Kansans, Project 17 has identified four areas that need to be addressed: Economic Development, Healthcare, Leadership and Permanent Structure,” stated Yvonne Hull, Executive Director of the Coffeyville Area Chamber of Commerce. “This grant will provide Project 17 with the resources necessary to open up growth opportunities for businesses in Southeast Kansas.”

Seventeen Southeast Kansas Counties will be served through the project – Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Labette, Linn, Miami, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson, and Woodson.

The goal of the project is to create and sustain well-paid jobs in identified industry clusters in the Southeast Kansas region by leveraging experience and methods of recognized regional development experts, and engaging economic and community leaders from across the region.

This competition, which is being funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Appalachian Regional Commission, and Delta Regional Authority, was designed by the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and the White House Rural Council. The initiative is also supported by nine other Federal agencies: Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership; Denali Commission; U.S. Department of Education; U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration; U.S. Department of Energy; Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the Small Business Administration.

USDA announced there were 62 applicants nationally for Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant funding, and 13 projects were picked.

Additional Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge winners include:

  • – Alaska: Bristol Bay Jobs Accelerator Project, $405,023
  • – Connecticut: New England Food Hub Cluster Initiative, $568,150
  • – Illinois: Henry-Rural Rock Island-Mercer County Economic Development Consortium, $193,500
  • – Louisiana-Arkansas: I-20 Corridor Regional Accelerator, $964,134
  • – Mississippi: Mississippi State University, $1,065,000
  • – New Hampshire: Northern Tier Farm and Forest Jobs Accelerator, $708,750
  • – North Carolina: WNC AgriVentures – Cultivating Jobs and Innovation Project , $815,000
  • – North Carolina: Northern Carolina Eastern Region Aerospace and Automotive Cluster Project, $715,000
  • – South Carolina: Southern Carolina Alliance Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, $650,000
  • – Virginia: Appalachian Spring – Using Asset-Based and Creative Economy Methods to Catalyze Rural Job Acceleration, $815,000
  • – West Virginia: Southern West Virginia Rural Jobs Accelerator Partnership, $717,985
  • – West Virginia: Value Chain Cluster Initiative, $815,000

For more information about the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge contact Yvonne Hull, Coffeyville Area Chamber of Commerce, 620-251-2550.