Entrepreneurship will be the focus of a new project funded by a USDA Rural Development grant in northwest Kansas and southwest Nebraska.
Project activities will be undertaken principally in Rawlins County, Kan., and Chase County, in Nebraska.
The $99,000 grant will support activities to identify entrepreneurs with growth potential and help them develop new or expanded markets or product lines. The grant will also support activities to help young people learn what it means to start and operate a small business.
Partners in the project include the Heartland Center for Leadership Development; the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship; the Atwood, Kan., Chamber of Commerce; Rawlins County, Kan., Economic Development; Bird City, Kan., Century II Development Foundation; ACE Foundation; High Plains Food Cooperative; the city of Imperial and Mid-Plains Center for Enterprise at Mid-Plains Community College.
Leslie Carlholm, community development director in Imperial, said this project will build on an initiative funded in 2006 when voters passed a local option sales tax to assist new and existing businesses to grow and expand.
“We are very enthusiastic about this project and its potential for encouraging and growing entrepreneurship in northwest Kansas,” said Ryan Glasgow, director of Rawlins County Economic Development.
“Developing young and new entrepreneurs and focused growth opportunities of existing entrepreneurs has been part of our economic development strategy since 2004,” he said.
The USDA grant will “complement Imperial’s revolving loan funds by stimulating entrepreneurial activity and providing the support network necessary for entrepreneurial success,” she said.
“Given the economic times, we see this project as a real ray of hope for rural communities that are working hard to diversify their economies,” said Cinch Munson, associate vice-president of Mid-Plains Community College and the Mid-Plains Center for Enterprise.
“This project fits our mission and nicely complements and builds upon our activities in the area,” he added.
The Center for Enterprise is setting up hours at the MPCC Imperial extended campus, probable, twice a month Carlholm said.
The focus of the project will be principally on what is known as “business coaching,” which provides technical services to entrepreneurs to help them expand their networks, access external resources and learn how to grow their product lines, services or markets.
For more information interested people can, contact Munson at (308) 535-3678, or by email at