New partnership strengthens communities across Kansas

A statewide network

By Erin Pennington

Kansas State University and NetWork Kansas are partnering to create a statewide network of committed, creative partners to advance community vitality, increase small business startups, expand existing businesses and increase direct investment attracted to all 105 counties in the state.

NetWork Kansas advances communities by supporting entrepreneurship-led economic development. The statewide initiative that involves K-State will address specific community and business needs to enable economic growth, including:

  • Technical assistance.
  • Access to capital.
  • Child care.
  • Infrastructure.
  • Housing.

The initiative will build on K-State’s status as a leader in community vitality and NetWork Kansas’ partner networks and e-communities throughout the state by focusing on creating sustainable growth across the state through:

  • A statewide economic development liaison network.
  • Regional, community and business support.
  • Support for business creation and expansion.
  • Workforce development.
  • Technical solutions for Kansas companies.

While urban and rural communities have similar challenges, including moderate-income housing, child care and health care, there are major distinctions that require different models of engagement. For this reason, the initiative will initially establish two Learn Together community partnerships that will allow it to build effective programs to address the distinct challenges of urban and rural Kansas communities.

The urban Learn Together partner is GO Topeka. The partnership creates success for companies and entrepreneurs through an aggressive economic development strategy that capitalizes on the unique strengths of the Shawnee County community.

The rural Learn Together partner is the Northwest Kansas Economic Innovation Center Inc., or NWKEICI, which provides economic and entrepreneurial assistance to businesses in northwest and north central Kansas. The private operating foundation serves 26 counties in the region with various programs.

Together, with these partners, K-State will connect university resources to address individual community challenges.

“We firmly believe that if civic and community leaders are committed to locally driven growth strategies and are connected to a broad range of technical, business and support services, all communities can grow and thrive,” said Richard Linton, K-State president.

See page 4 to learn more about the K-State presidential community visit initiative to continue engaging with all 105 counties in Kansas.