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Posted on: September 19, 2012

NetWork Kansas expands Economic Gardening program

NetWork Kansas invites Kansas communities to apply for a new economic gardening program that would allow them to offer high-growth businesses in their area targeted economic gardening engagements as part of the Kansas Economic Gardening Network. The NetWork Kansas Economic Gardening Community Application process will accept submissions from community partnerships to provide matching funds for economic gardening engagements with 3-7 businesses in an applying community. Additionally, NetWork Kansas has partnered with Mid-American Manufacturing Technology Center (MAMTC) to offer Innovation Engineering engagements to qualified businesses through the economic gardening program. The deadline for initial community applications is Oct. 12, 2012.

The Kansas Economic Gardening Network was launched by NetWork Kansas in 2010 to connect second-stage companies that have the intent and capacity to grow their business with significant sophisticated technical assistance. Selected businesses interact with an experienced national economic gardening team who deliver economic gardening services tailored to meet the needs of each business. Examples of economic gardening services include GIS, market research, search engine optimization (SEO) tools, social media monitoring, and sales lead generation. Jeremy Hill of Wichita State University has completed certification to provide market research expertise to Kansas companies and is the first Kansan certified to provide expertise as part of the national team.

The next phase of the Kansas Economic Gardening Network deepens the potential impact of economic gardening services by including entire communities instead of individual businesses. Communities can apply for one of up to nine openings in the program that will be awarded matching funds to sponsor the cost of economic gardening services and MAMTC's Innovation Engineering program.

"Kansas continues to be an excellent example of an economic gardening program done right!" said Mark Lange, managing director of the National Center for Economic Gardening. "Network Kansas has really proven their value as a collaborative lead organization by pulling together multiple partners, resources and access to wonderful participating companies. The stories and results coming out now of the companies that have participated in the program have only heightened expectations heading into the next round of companies."

The NetWork Kansas Economic Gardening Community Application process will accept submissions from community partnerships (municipalities or countywide) that identify between 3-7 businesses that fit the criteria of the economic gardening program. Up to 9 applications will be awarded matching funds. Of these, 2 community partnerships will be provided to urban community partnerships (municipal population above 50,000).

Communities participating must provide matching funds for economic gardening services and for those wishing to enroll in MAMTC's Innovation Engineering program. The Innovation Engineering program also requires a $2,000 payment by the business to participate.

"The Kansas economic gardening program for rural communities has proven to be a resounding success. Not only are growth companies found in all sizes of communities, but economic gardening tools and concepts were shown to be immediately useful in helping these companies add jobs in very tough economic times," said Chris Gibbons, pioneer of the economic gardening economic development strategy.

The value of services available for each business is estimated at $3,500 for economic gardening services and an additional $7,000 for any business that is also participating in the MAMTC Innovation Engineering program. Communities with 7 participating businesses could receive a total of nearly $30,000 worth of matching funds from NetWork Kansas as part of this program.

The initial round of community applications closes on Oct. 12, 2012, with awards being made on Oct. 31, 2012. To learn more or to download an application, visit:
http://networkkansas.com/entrepreneurs/kansas-economic-gardening-network

About Economic Gardening
Pioneered in 1989 by the city of Littleton, Colo., economic gardening embraces strategies to grow existing second-stage businesses by providing them with valuable business-intelligence tools such as: A.) sophisticated databases that identify market trends, potential partners or competitors and unknown resources buried deep inside industry information; B.) geographic information systems; C.) SEO tools; and D.) social media monitoring applications that can track websites, blogs and online communities to see what people are saying about companies and products. By supporting existing businesses in a community that is poised for growth, economic gardening encourages the development of essential infrastructure that sustains long-term, internally-propelled economic growth.

About Innovation Engineering
Innovation Engineering is a system designed to help a business create an entrepreneurial culture of continuous innovation with increasing speed and reducing risk. Companies work with MAMTC to define and discover meaningfully unique ideas to lead customers to new products and services or to adapt current offerings to new customers.

About NetWork Kansas
NetWork Kansas was established as a component of the Kansas Economic Growth Act of 2004 to further entrepreneurship and small business growth as a priority for economic and community development in the State of Kansas. Backed by more than 500 resource partners statewide, NetWork Kansas promotes an entrepreneurial environment by connecting entrepreneurs and small business owners with the expertise, education, and economic resources they need in order to succeed. For more information about NetWork Kansas, visit www.networkkansas.com, or call (877) 521-8600.

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