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Economic development partnership between Manhattan, Kansas State University named finalist for national award 

Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015


MANHATTAN — A partnership between the city of Manhattan and Kansas State University is again receiving national attention for its efforts to spur economic development by helping innovative companies start or relocate a business in the community.

The Knowledge Based Economic Development, or KBED, program has been named one of four finalists in the University Economic Development Association's 2015 Awards of Excellence competition.

KBED was established in 2008 to align the city's strategy for economic development in a way that capitalizes on the university's research strengths and the area's growth opportunities. It is a combined effort by the city of Manhattan, the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, Kansas State University, the Kansas State University Foundation and the North Central Kansas Community Network.

"Manhattan and the surrounding region have a lot to offer companies in many industries," said Lyle Butler, president of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce. "What we've been able to do with KBED is show that our region is serious about providing great opportunities for these companies because they realize that the resources at Kansas State University and throughout our community are quite good. We've had early success, but we're just getting started in attracting companies here."

Since 2008, KBED has helped 10 companies move operations to Manhattan. Recent examples include Garmin International, CivicPlus and the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Earlier this year, KBED estimated it has helped create 316 full-time jobs in the region, and projects 623 more over the next five years. The average salary of jobs created is $51,785.

The group also is closely involved in developing the master plan for the university's North Campus Corridor, which will design and implement growth in the North Manhattan Avenue/Kimball Avenue area of town.

Rebecca Robinson, the director of economic development at the university's Institute for Commercialization, said Manhattan is attractive to prospective businesses for such reasons as financing options; reasonably priced land; the local infrastructure, including the upcoming construction of the National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility; and quality of life.

She said that Kansas State University's contribution to the area's economic development growth includes providing research, students and training. The university helps to identify faculty and staff whose expertise makes them good partners for prospective businesses. To date, 26 Kansas State University faculty are formally involved with companies that have located or expanded in the region.

"As a land-grant institution, Kansas State University's mission is not only serving students, but also improving the quality of life for Kansas residents," said Kirk Schulz, university president. "As we see in the numbers, our partnership with KBED is helping stimulate innovation and economic growth in the state. The benefits from this partnership will only increase for the state as Kansas State University advances to becoming a Top 50 public research university by 2025."

KBED is competing against programs from Purdue University, Washington State University and Michigan State University for the award of excellence in leadership and development, which will be presented at UEDA's annual meeting Sept. 27-30 in Anchorage, Alaska. Robinson and Kent Glasscock, president of the Institute for Commercialization, will make a presentation stating Manhattan's case for the national honor.

Officials at UEDA note that the annual awards program is intended to recognize cutting-edge initiatives and promote their adoption by other institutions and communities. Robinson said that UEDA is considered the cornerstone membership organization representing higher education, private sector and community development groups.

For more information about KBED and Manhattan's economic development strategy, visit pickmanhattan.com.


Rebecca Robinson



Written by

Pat Melgares

At a glance

The Knowledge Based Economic Development, or KBED, program in Manhattan, has been named one of four finalists in the University Economic Development Association's 2015 Awards of Excellence competition.