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SciTech festival seeking funding

Cottonwood Journal Extra of Cottonwood, Arizona

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Final preparations are in the works for the first Verde Valley SciTech Festival, set for March and designed to showcase science, technology, engineering and math right here at home.

Currently set to run between Saturday, March 22, through Saturday, March 29, the festival brings together various organizations from around the area to look at what they contribute in these fields.

It includes groups like the Verde River Valley Nature Organization, the Cottonwood Police and Fire departments, the National Park Service, Mingus Union High School, Yavapai College and a pending event with speakers at Verde Valley Medical Center.

"Our joint goal is to showcase the amazing Science Technology Engineering and Math throughout our communities and inspire our next generation of STEM enthusiasts and leaders," festival organizers stated. "We aim to reach people of all ages and connect our educational and workforce continuum — K-12, college, business and industry. At this stage, we have a framework created and are looking to our partners throughout the Verde Valley to team with us to make this happen with content, venues, events and promotions."

According to Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens, the festival is seeking a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to help provide for future festivals so that this can be a regular event.

Jeremy Babendure, Executive Director of the Arizona SciTech Festival, is working on putting together the grant funding proposal.

While the letter isn't quite finished, according to Joens, Babendure did provide an example of what organizers could expect to see in it.

Much of it talks about what the Verde Valley already has to offer and how focusing on STEM education could be a boon to the local economy.

"The major economic sectors in the Verde Valley are the medical industry, tourism, hospitality, retail, agriculture, light manufacturing, renewable energy and education. Small businesses and entrepreneur-ship are the backbone of our economy, Babendure wrote. "The focus of economic development is on business retention and expansion followed by recruitment of new businesses. Our community realizes that business opportunities and growth are based on retaining and helping expand the businesses we already have. Our goals are to provide better jobs, increase wealth and improve the quality of life for our citizens."

The letter would be signed by leaders of schools, municipalities and other local and regional organizations.

The next organizational meeting for the festival is set for 9 a.m., Monday, Feb. 3, at Yavapai College Clarkdale Campus, building M, Room 203.

Copyright 2014 Cottonwood Journal Extra, Cottonwood, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: January 15, 2014

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