WSU wins grant for environmental finance center

Wichita State University is about to become a "go-to" resource for cities, tribes, and private entities in a four-state area that want help with environmental issues.

The university's Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs has won a $190,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to establish an environmental finance center for a region that includes Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and Kansas.

WSU is eligible to receive up to $2.4 million over the next six years for the center. It will be one of 10 universities in the nation to have such a center.

The center will help communities comply with environmental requirements, develop financing options for environmental initiatives and projects, and promote development of sustainable communities.

The center also will develop and provide financial training, education and other services to local governments, as well as offer conferences, workshops, seminars, retreats and research.

Angela Buzard, executive officer of the Regional Economic Area Partnership, will be the center's director. She said that over the next few months the center will meet with stakeholders throughout the region to get an idea where services are needed.

"They'll be coming to us for services and we'll kind of go from there as far as what types of things they need for us to help them with," she said.

The center also will help direct officials to funding sources and ways to work with federal and state agencies, she said.

It will consult with other centers for expertise and advice. Other centers have been operating for more than 18 years. WSU will be the first center for this region.