New unit boosts innovation, economic development

  Wednesday, July 12, 2017 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

New unit boosts innovation, economic development

To better coordinate, implement and extend Pittsburg State University’s economic development activities and innovation strategies, the university has created a new unit called University Strategic Initiatives.

The USI houses all aspects of Enterprise PSU (formerly the Center for Innovation and Business Development) and the Kansas Polymer Research Center (KPRC), as well as the university's governmental advocacy efforts. The USI is housed within PSU’s President’s Division.

Shawn Naccarato, who leads USI as the university’s Chief Strategy Officer, said the new unit will help the university better leverage its strengths in the areas of economic development and innovation strategies.

“Over the past couple of years, Pittsburg State has enjoyed tremendous success in using innovative strategies to support both the university and the surrounding region through economic development efforts,” Naccarato said. “By creating the University Strategic Initiatives unit, Pittsburg State has placed itself in a strong position to continue to build upon that success and have an even greater impact in our area. 

“Our main mission is to take advantage of our internal and external partnerships to make Pittsburg and the surrounding region an attractive place to work, play and live,” Naccarato said. “Simply put, the USI is responsible for finding the ‘big things’ that will help position PSU as the transformational university that it is.”

Naccarato said partnerships within the university and the city are mutually beneficial for both parties.

“A stronger positioned Pittsburg and Pittsburg area makes PSU a more attractive university for current and future students,” he said. “Enhanced partnerships with industry provides hands-on experience and career opportunities for PSU students both locally and globally.”

One of the key initiatives led by USI is the Block22 project, which is transforming four historic buildings in downtown Pittsburg into student housing, a business incubator, co-working area, and a multi-function event and educational space. 

“Through innovative partnerships like the upcoming Block22 Makerspace, students and community members will have access to resources and equipment that will foster development of the next great product idea,” Naccarato said. 

Also within USI is the Kansas Polymer Research Center, an internationally-recognized center for chemistry and materials science with a specialization in vegetable oil-based polymer research and development.

“Our KPRC is working with leading companies in the world on new polymer and plant-based oil discoveries, showcasing the leading edge thought and training of PSU faculty, staff and students,” Naccarato said.

Sydney Anselmi, who previously served as a small business consultant for the CIBD, serves as USI’s director of operations and director of student initiatives.

“Since joining our staff more than a year ago, Sydney has exhibited remarkable leadership abilities and a true passion for innovative thinking,” Naccarato said. “In her role as director of operations and director of student initiatives, Sydney will provide essential leadership, energy and the skills necessary to enhance our innovation initiatives.”



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