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K-State Today

September 16, 2014



K-State to provide marketing, e-commerce assistance to small private businesses

By David E. Procter

Kansas State University's Center for Engagement and Community Development has received a $99,000 grant from the USDA Rural Development to provide technical assistance to small and emerging private businesses in Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Labette, Linn, Miami, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson counties who have products they would like to expand the marketing of and potentially also sell online.

Focus will be on local food, value added food, agriculturally based, plant based, biotechnology and other locally made products. Currently few small and emerging companies in this region have a website and even fewer are selling their product via e-commerce. This initiative will help these small businesses develop content to start their own websites, enhance their marketing, expand distribution opportunities as well as help them determine the best e-commerce sites for distribution of their products.

This grant is in support of Project 17, a rural regional development initiative, which seeks to improve the economic opportunities and quality of life of those who live and work in 17 counties: Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Labette, Linn, Miami, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson.

The expansion of these business' e-commerce will significantly grow businesses in this rural region, create jobs, expand stores' customer bases, and increase sales revenue. In addition to Center for Engagement and Community Development, K-State partners include Dawn Deeter-Schmelz, marketing; the National Strategic Selling Institute; and Londa Nwadike, extension food safety specialist. Off-campus partners include: USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, local and regional economic development professionals, local chambers of commerce, the Small Business Administration, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the Kansas Department of Agriculture's From the Land of Kansas program, the Kansas Department of Commerce, the Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops, and Kansas State University Research and Extension.

"Our team is looking forward to working with the small businesses in this region to assist them in boosting their online presence, strengthening their businesses and enhancing regional economic development," said David Procter, director of the Center for Engagement and Community Development.

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