An initiative formed to improve the quality of life and economic opportunities in southeast Kansas hopes new members for its economic development and health work groups will help push its efforts forward.

Project 17 ó which includes the 17 member counties of Franklin and Anderson counties, as well as Allen, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Elk, Greenwood, Labette, Linn, Miami, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson counties ó already has received multiple grants to help develop regional opportunities and has specific plans to improve the economic conditions and health of the region, according to a news release from the group.

The economic development work group is focused on increasing: the number of well-paid jobs; the number of globally competitive innovative products and services; access to innovation resources and showcase open innovation; and collaboration among economic development entities and among goods producing companies.

The health work group is expected to develop strategies specifically focusing on: the direct connection between the health of the region and the regionís economic prosperity;†determining the best course of action to address the daunting challenge of improving the regionís health; and addressing the health of the region, which will directly impact the workforce needed to grow businesses.

To nominate someone to serve on Project 17ís economic development or health work groups, to volunteer to serve on either Work Group, or to receive more information, email Heather Morgan, Project 17 executive director, at