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January 7, 2009

RSU and RCB Bank Receive JOBS Grant

FHL Bank TopekaRogers State University's Innovation Center and RCB Bank received an $18,000 JOBS grant from FHL Bank of Topeka Kansas to establish a regional business intelligence center. The Joint Opportunities for Building Success (JOBS) program provides grants to member banks to assist in promoting employment growth in their communities. The grant, although awarded to RCB Bank, requires partnership with the RSU Innovation Center to carry out grant initiatives. "RCB Bank is very pleased to participate in the FHL Bank JOBS Grant which will allow the Rogers State University Innovation Center to provide additional competitive business intelligence to small businesses in Rogers County," said Tom Bayless, Chief Operating Officer at RCB Bank.

RCB Bank plans to promote and collaborate with the Innovation Center by printing and distributing brochures and posters that describe these excellent services, Bayless said. Through extensive interviews, counseling, and follow-up surveys the Innovation Center identified marketing research as the most important and growing need of businesses in the community.

According to Dr. Ray Brown, Vice President of Economic and Community Development at RSU: "These businesses have a need for reliable answers to important questions they are facing such as: What is our market share and how can we increase it? How will our existing customers respond to a new product or service? How can we attract new customer segments?"

The Business Intelligence Center will focus on performing market research and analyses for businesses that need to expand sales of existing products and services into new markets. Market research services will provide a structured approach in defining marketing issues and objectives.

Collection and analysis of data will assist in scanning the environment for potential new markets, market trends, and competitors."Often, the smaller businesses do not recognize the importance of business intelligence in guiding the development of their business, or they have insufficient resources to acquire and utilize the information" Brown said. "This grant will allow the Innovation Center to purchase industry and consumer databases crucial to market research in order to provide technical assistance that supports small businesses, manufacturers, agricultural producers, and tourism in northeastern Oklahoma. For instance, a local manufacturing company has lost customers due to outsourcing to China and Mexico.  They are currently looking to find more local and regional buyers of their products.  Databases purchased through the grant will be used to identify, segment and target new buyers."

The Business Intelligence Center is part of an economic development strategy referred to as "economic gardening"  The award winning strategy developed in  Littleton, Colo. encourages the development and expansion of local businesses and industries rather than recruiting new business from outside the community.  Part of the strategy of economic gardening is to assist startups and existing businesses by providing them with business intelligence that smaller businesses usually lack.

Other partners besides the RSU Innovation Center include the Claremore Industrial Development Authority, and the Oklahoma Alliance for Manufacturing Excellence.  In addition to the $18,000 provided by the FHL grant, CIEDA provided $10,000 in matching funds.  RCB, RSU, and the Alliance will provide $64,930 in in-kind contributions and matching funds for the project.

The Business Intelligence Center will be located at the Innovation Center on the Rogers State University campus in Claremore; however, the services will be available to prospective businesses located in northeastern Oklahoma.

For more information regarding the Business Intelligence Center and services provided contact Dr. Ray Brown at (918) 343-7533 or e-mail rbrown@rsu.edu.

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Pictured are (from left to right) Eric Kurtz, senior vice president RCB; Tim Hight, executive director CIEDA; Ray Brown, vice president of economic and community development at RSU and Tom Bayless, senior executive vice president RBC.