|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Economic Adjustment Assistance||1||$100,6075|
|Regional Innovation Strategies||1||$330,000|
Southeast Kansas, once the center of a thriving mining, agricultural and manufacturing-based economy, began to lose industries and population in the 1990s, creating a number of socioeconomic problems for the region. In response, a group of business and civic leaders came together to pursue a comprehensive approach to addressing the regions problems. In September 2011, the region received $1.8 million from the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant program developed by EDA, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, and the Small Business Administration, to develop a comprehensive approach to its economic development needs.
The Jobs Accelerator project was a regional initiative in a 17-county region of Southeast Kansas targeted at creating and sustaining jobs in advanced manufacturing by accelerating innovation. The project created an asset-based development plan to spur job and wealth creation; map regional assets; profile the innovation capabilities of businesses; connect businesses with innovation resources; and empower project recipients to proactively work together to enhance the competitiveness of goods producing entrepreneurs and existing businesses in the region. It was designed to bring a wide variety of organizations, cities and business interests together to address economic development, education/workforce, health, and leadership on a regional level.
In 2015, the project scope of work was enhanced to include a Regional Broadband Initiative. This initiative addresses technology infrastructure and connectivity, including an industry/community feasibility pilot project, and an assessment of e-commerce barriers within the region. Lack of broadband infrastructure was a major issue that was raised as part of the asset mapping study and regional meetings. As a result, a multi-million dollar private investment in the region’s broadband infrastructure was made by Kansas Fiber Network with a broadband trunk-line through the region. Seven rural programs were set up to address the under employed and the unemployed and assist them in moving above the federal poverty level. Two regional fabrication labs were created, both with significant private investment. To date, the project has trained 1,000 regional leaders.