The SR20 presentation to city council members last week was coordinated by Wes Jurey, president of The Center for Innovation (CFI), and came less than two months after the city approved a five-year $125,000 agreement with the Arlington, Texas-based intermediary.
Mayor Bob Dixson and City Administrator Ed Truelove introduced CFI, a technology consultant group founded by Jurey, to the council on June 4. Dixson said both men had traveled to Arlington on May 15 and heard a three-hour presentation from CFI. Truelove showed the council a CFI presentation and council members were told that an agreement would be presented at a future meeting.
On June 18 Truelove presented a contract and asked the city council to approve an agreement between the city and CFI, but the council tabled their vote requesting a personal meeting with a CFI representative.
“I’m intrigued by [the types of projects] presented by CFI,” commented councilman Matt Christenson at the meeting, “but, I don’t feel comfortable agreeing to this just yet.”
Jurey traveled to Greensburg on July 12 to attend a special city council meeting and made a nearly two-hour pitch. The council approved the agreement directly afterward, with Councilwoman Erica Goodman the only vote against.
The city has committed a total $125,000 of city funds and an additional $36,000 of in-kind expenses to CFI and CFI related projects.
The city first committed $36,000 worth of in-kind staff time and expenses over a three-year period to provide “information as needed” to CFI for a U.S. Department of Commerce grant proposal, according to minutes from a July 2 council meeting.
City staff would not actually be paid money for their time, but any travel expenses or hard costs would be reimbursed from that amount. When asked if a city employee would receive payment for man-hours spent working for CFI as part of the grant, Truelove said “no they wouldn’t.” But he acknowledged that should a city employee travel on behalf of the grant process, they would be reimbursed for fuel, hotel accommodations and other travel costs.
Truelove said that CFI was attempting to secure grant funds from the “Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge” grant, which will award 12 applicants $2.3 million each in 2012.
In 2011 Wichita State University received almost $2 million from the grant to fund their Center for Innovation and Enterprise program.
City officials also agreed to pay CFI $25,000 per year over a five-year period as a condition of their agreement. That agreement states that the funds are “in support of the TechComm network.” TechComm is a division of CFI that advances “the commercialization of federally funded research” according to their website.
Page 2 of 2 - The agreement allows for termination of the agreement by either the city or CFI at any time.