TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas State University announced that it’s partnering with NetWork Kansas to invest in community and business needs across the state of Kansas.

The land-grant university’s plan, the “K-State 105” initiative, is centered around economic growth across all Kansas counties — urban and rural.

“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 K-State President Richard Linton.

The initiative will initially establish two Learn Together community partnerships that will allow it to address the distinct challenges of urban and rural Kansas communities.

NetWork Kansas, a nonprofit organization that works with local communities to create and expand businesses, will be helping identify local challenges. This includes failing infrastructure, environmentally contaminated buildings or sites, housing, childcare or establishing an entrepreneurial culture.

Solutions will be explored by leveraging the existing capabilities of K-State, other regent system institutions, NetWork Kansas and other statewide and regional economic development collaborators.

“We are thrilled to be a partner in K-State 105, which is built on the foundation that entrepreneurs solve community issues and grow local economies,” said Steve Radley, NetWork Kansas CEO. “Our 69 entrepreneurship communities work every day to ensure that entrepreneurs get the technical assistance and capital they need to be successful.”

The K-State 105 initiative is aligned with K-State’s Economic Prosperity Plan’s goals of creating 3,000 direct new jobs and attracting $3 billion in new Kansas investment by 2029.

Go Topeka, an economic development agency in the state capital, is the initial urban partner of K-State 105. According to leaders at the university, the partnership will aim to increase the number and quality of jobs in the Shawnee country region through supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, especially in animal health, agriculture technology innovation and intersecting industries. 

“We are excited to be chosen as the initial urban partner for K-State 105 and are looking forward to expanding our ability to connect the entrepreneurs, startups and existing businesses in our community with the resources available through K-State and NetWork Kansas that support startup activity and help to grow our existing businesses,” said Laurie Pieper, Go Topeka vice president of entrepreneurship and small business. 

The university is also engaging with 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.