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Center for Engagement and Community Development

Project 17 Rural Business Enterprise Grant

Kansas State University’s Center for Engagement and Community Development (CECD) was awarded a grant in 2014 from the USDA Rural Development. This rural business enterprise grant supports 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 Southeast Kansas counties. The counties include Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Labette, Linn, Miami, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson, and Woodson.

Under the direction of Heather Morgan, Project 17 strives to provide technical assistance to small and emerging private businesses who grow, produce, process or manufacture food or agribusiness products, or who create unique, locally-produced artisan products. This initiative is helping small businesses in these counties develop content to start their own websites, enhance marketing, expand distribution opportunities, and determine the best e-commerce site(s) for distribution of their products.

Businesses participated in local Project 17 “kick-off events,” where they were introduced to this initiative. The first kick-off event was held in Iola, KS on November 17, 2014. The latest event was held on April 16, 2015 in Pittsburg, KS and presenters included:

  • Lisa Piersall, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Lodging
  • Randy Snider, USDA, Business Program Director
  • Stacy Mayo, Kansas Department of Agriculture, From the Land of Kansas
  • Londa Nwadike, Kansas State Research and Extension
  • Tom Byler, Kansas Small Business Development Center
  • Darrell Pulliam, Pittsburg State University
  • John Gendron, Network Kansas, Center for Entrepreneurship

Project 17 marketing assistance is provided by K-State students under the direction of the National Strategic Selling Institute. The students involved are active Pi Sigma Epsilon members, a student organization in sales, marketing, and management. By providing Project 17 businesses assistance, the students earn support to attend a national sales and marketing competition and conference.