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Posted on: March 28, 2013

NetWork Kansas awards community economic gardening engagements

NetWork Kansas has awarded Johnson County, the city of Parsons, and the city of Wichita with community-level economic gardening engagements through the statewide Kansas Economic Gardening Network. These community applications will support at least 16 economic gardening engagements worth more than $56,000 with second-stage businesses.

NetWork Kansas launched a second round of economic gardening engagements in October 2012 with the Economic Gardening Community Application. Kansas communities can apply for one of nine openings in the program that will be awarded matching funds to sponsor the cost of economic gardening services for high-growth businesses in their area.

To date, three community applications have been approved: the city of Parsons, the city of Wichita (via the Wichita Technology Corporation), and Johnson County (via Enterprise Center of Johnson County). The Johnson County partnership includes businesses in the city of Overland Park and the city of Shawnee.

"We are extremely excited that the communities of Parsons, Wichita, Overland Park and Shawnee are participating in the Economic Gardening Community Application process," said Corey Mohn, NetWork Kansas director of Statewide Programs. "The program gives a community the opportunity to add value to existing businesses that have the opportunity to grow and prosper where they are. These communities are making a commitment to support their local entrepreneurial ecosystem, and we are more than happy to co-invest and support them."

NetWork Kansas closed its pilot economic gardening program in 2012. The program was funded in part by USDA Rural Development and included 28 second-stage businesses in rural Kansas. In one year, participating companies increased annual revenues by a total of more than $22 million, a 25.9 percent increase. These companies also increased net employment by 165 full-time positions (a 29 percent increase) and 24 part-time positions (a 32 percent increase).

According to Carolyn Kennett, economic development director for the city of Parsons, economic gardening is a valuable tool to help communities compete in a challenging economic environment.

"The services provided by the economic gardening program can identify market trends, potential partners and data-based industry resources that can give our businesses an advantage for success," said Kennett.

A partnership between the Wichita Technology Corporation and the city of Wichita facilitated the Wichita application.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to bring the resources of two nationally recognized programs to Wichita," said Patricia Brasted, president, Wichita Technology Corporation. "Economic gardening and Innovation Engineering will be made available through our pilot program to several entrepreneurial growth companies in Wichita to enhance their growth and success."

Opportunities still exist for communities to apply and receive matching funds for economic gardening engagements. The next application deadline is April 15, 2013. Communities interested in applying should visit the NetWork Kansas website http://www.networkkansas.com/about/network-kansas-programs/kansas-economic-gardening-network or contact Corey Mohn at (785) 296-6611 or cmohn@networkkansas.com.

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About Economic Gardening:
Pioneered in 1989 by the city of Littleton, Colorado, economic gardening embraces strategies to grow existing 2nd stage businesses by providing them with valuable business-intelligence tools. By supporting existing businesses in a community that are 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 the Mid-American Manufacturing Technology Center (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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