The state of Kansas may see an expansion of new high-paying jobs thanks to a federal grant award. Kansas Polymer Research Center at Pittsburg State University received a $1.4 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. These grant funds will enable Kansas Polymer Research Center to develop and promote new polymeric materials and plastics processing capabilities.
The hope, in addition to high-paying jobs, is that this will diversify the economy in Kansas. Currently, Kansas boasts a vast agricultural economy with over 40% of jobs existing in agriculture. The top commodities exported from the state include cattle and calves, corn, soybeans, wheat and sorghum.
This grant, which is a continuation of funding awarded previously, will be utilized by the National Institute for Materials Advancement. The expertise of scientists, combined with assistance from students, will work together utilizing 50 years of polymer research to develop innovative solutions that affect the region’s economy and workforce. Some of the recent research developments have focused on the value-add applications of vegetable oil. This has resulted in a new battery, non-flammable foam and a new kind of golf ball.
“I supported the creation of NIMA at PSU, and I’m pleased to see this continued federal investment in the innovative work and research happening in southeast Kansas,” said Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). “These new resources will help diversify the regional workforce by creating new technology-based jobs, boosting the local economy, and further solidifying PSU’s leadership in this field.”
Kansas About More Than Agriculture
There are issues with a state’s economy. Being so heavily dependent on agriculture. Issues like climate change, drought, cold fronts or flooding can be catastrophic. Can the potential of these new types of jobs help Kansas – and the region – offer more opportunities to residents?
“Everything we’re doing is around creating jobs,” said Tim Dawsey, executive director of the KPRC. “We have a huge agricultural economy here which is very vulnerable to the next drought, freeze, or flood.
“We must diversify it to keep it sustainable, and to do that, we’ll use our plastics and polymer expertise to develop new technology-based jobs – higher-paying tech jobs, manufacturing jobs — into the area. That means taking agricultural products, byproducts, or waste, and turning them into value-added products, and then commercializing them.”
Programs like these – nonprofits in several states (including Kansas) for economic development and job training – that bolster a state’s economy and diversity opportunities are critical. We have a category for energy-related grants, research and evaluation, and agriculture & farming. Sign up for a paid GrantWatch subscription to access all of our valuable grant-related resources.