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Specialty Crops, Economic Development Tool

Posted by | October 15, 2008

WSU Researchers Receive $3.3 Million in USDA Specialty Crop Grants

Researchers at Washington State University were among the most successful nationwide in winning competitive grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

This new program targets research funding to “specialty crops,” which include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops. Designated research funds had not previously been available for these crops, unlike the long-established programs for commodity crops such as wheat, corn and soybeans.

WSU scientists will receive more than $3.3 million to study a variety of things, including how plant nutrients affect white wine quality, new ways of thinning tree fruit, integrated pest management systems that allow farmers to use fewer pesticides, and the development of new fabric-based, degradable mulches for use as crop cover. Altogether, WSU researchers received nearly 12 percent of the funding available in this $28 million program.

For more details, please visit:

WSU researchers received nearly 12 percent of available funding from the new specialty crop grant program.

Check Your Connection

Washington State has an extensive array of economic development resources. What’s needed, according to WSU Vice President for Economic Development and Extension John Gardner, is a better way to connect with them. So Gardner has started by developing an easy-to-use online map to those resources.

In his first year with WSU, Gardner says he has discovered that the public sector in our state offers an amazing array of economic development resources to assist business, particularly small business, survive and thrive. What is lacking, he says, is any semblance of an organized system connecting those resources, or even an easy referral system to allow business owners to find the specific assistance they need.

“Small businesses comprise the majority of all business in the country, and here in Washington, 55 percent of jobs are in the small business sector,” says Gardner. “Our job in economic development is to help people put their skills to work, but to do that we need ways to help business owners connect with the appropriate resources. All small businesses have different needs at different times and in different communities.”

To help provide a more coordinated structure, Gardner and his team have undertaken a thorough inventory of the resources available throughout the state. And to make it easy for a business owner to find the right resources in his or her community, Gardner has put much of the inventory into an easy-to-use online map.

Beneath a Google map of the state is a series of boxes that can be checked to display locations of the various resources on the map. As you run your cursor over each box a brief explanation pops up to tell you specifically what resources it will display on the map.

Want to find the nearest Small Business Development Center? Check the appropriate box and SBDC locations throughout the state appear on the map. Click on a location symbol on the map and you’ll get not only an address and phone number, but also an email link and URL for that facility.

The WSU Economic Development Partners map can help you locate WSU campuses, county extension offices and all other WSU facilities throughout the state. It also displays information for the state’s other public universities and community and technical colleges, offices of the state’s Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development and a wide array of other economic development agencies and resources.

You’ll find the map at:

John Gardner, top, led a team that developed an interactive map connecting WSU resources with economic development agencies across the state.

John Gardner, top, led a Marketing, News, and Educational Communications team in developing an interactive map connecting WSU resources with economic development agencies across the state. Check out the new tool by visiting