If you look around at some of the most engaged employers in any community, you will find generally that it is the businesses that are locally owned and/or locally managed. Manhattan is no exception when you consider companies like CivicPlus, Manko Window Systems, Hanes Brands, Inc. (formerly GTM) and KS StateBank, among many others that were started by local entrepreneurs.
These business employ thousands with significant disposable income, pay millions in property taxes and give significantly to local philanthropic efforts.
However, they all started much smaller than they are today, and often with limited resources. And companies like these are always searching for start-up capital in very difficult economic environments. The Chamber is working with a number of partners on helping improve our efforts in supporting startups.
We will be at the City Commission meeting tomorrow evening along with our partners at Kansas State Innovative Partners, Spark MHK and Black Entrepreneurs of the Flint Hills discussing a new Elevate Fund. The fund will begin with a revolving loan program that, if positively received by the city commission, will have over $1 million available to Manhattan startups and small businesses. This is similar to programs already established in places like Topeka and Wyandotte County and programs being developed in places like Lawrence.
Information on the specifics can be found on the city website (Agenda Item 8D).
We couldn’t be more pleased to be part of the group to be working on this important endeavor. Entrepreneurship is an important element of our entire economic development strategy. In addition to being key employers, locally owned businesses help make Manhattan a special place for both residents and visitors. We must be supportive of locally owned small business for our community to thrive and this is an important step in that process.
If you can attend, please do so. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at city hall. If the commission looks favorably on the program, we expect to get another opportunity for final approval later in the spring.
Please call Daryn Soldan or Jason if you have questions or comments. 785.776.8829