July 19, 2011
Good neighbors: Advanced Manufacturing Institute, regional planning commission help Kansas organization win innovation award
Having neighbors is helpful in more ways than simply borrowing a cup of sugar. In the business world, a network of neighbors can often help businesses succeed, even if they aren't located next door.
The National Association of Development Organizations recently recognized the Kansas Association of Regional Development Organizations with a 2011 Innovation Award for pioneering inventive ways to help rural or isolated businesses and communities create networks and identify opportunities for growth through the Kansas association's Regional Industry Cluster Analysis and Innovation Networking Project.
Two members of the regional association, the North Central Regional Planning Commission -- an economic development district based in Beloit -- and the Advanced Manufacturing Institute at Kansas State University, initiated the pilot regional planning project to increase technology-based economic development in 19 rural Kansas communities.
The pilot project has since led to the development of the Kansas Opportunity Innovation Network, an innovation intermediary to promote collaboration for growth across the state, funded in part by a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant, the Kansas Department of Commerce and several other partner organizations.
"Our efforts in regional innovation will help businesses and communities identify development opportunities and become more competitive in the marketplace," said Jeff Tucker, associate director of K-State's Advanced Manufacturing Institute.
The Kansas Association of Regional Development Organizations, a nonprofit organization founded in 2008, seeks to elevate awareness of regional development organizations statewide, better the service capabilities and capacities of these organizations and to refine the concept of regional development.
"Being recognized by the National Association of Development Organizations in such fashion is gratifying," said John Cyr, executive director of the association. "It shows the ideas of organizations like the Advanced Manufacturing Institute, the North Central Regional Planning Commission and other members of the Kansas Association of Regional Development Organizations are of such significance that they can and do attract attention at the national level. It further demonstrates what can be accomplished when an economic development district and a university center jointly address the same issue."
The National Association of Development Organizations is a Washington, D.C.-based association that promotes programs and policies that strengthen local governments, communities and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery and comprehensive strategies. The association's Innovation Awards program recognizes regional development and partnering organizations for improving the economic and community competitiveness of the nation's regions and local communities.
Award winners will be showcased Oct. 8-11 at the National Association of Development Organizations' 2011 annual training conference in Miami. Tim Ware, association president, said creative projects like the Regional Industry Cluster Analysis and Innovation Networking advance economic growth and sustainability of the country's regions and communities.
"For more than 20 years, NADO's Innovation Award has provided regional development organizations throughout the nation a unique opportunity to showcase their important work and critical role in promoting economic development for rural and small metropolitan communities," Ware said.
The Advanced Manufacturing Institute is part of K-State's College of Engineering and is an Economic Development Administration University Center and a Kansas Department of Commerce University Center that provides business and engineering services. More information about the institute is available at http://www.amisuccess.com.
The North Central Regional Planning Commission is one of the oldest regional planning organizations operating in Kansas today. More information about the commission is available at http://www.ncrpc.org.
More information about the award-winning project is available at http://ami.ncrpc.org.