One of the critical elements of supporting community entrepreneurship is access to capital. Earlier in 2023, the Chamber worked with the City of Manhattan to set aside economic development funds for business start-ups. We are happy to announce that this fund called the Elevate Fund is ready to begin accepting applications.
The Elevate Micro-Loan Program has been capitalized by the City of Manhattan, with the City Commission approving $250,000 to support small business funding in May 2023. The Greater Manhattan Community Foundation is also a key supporter, contributing resources for loan administration. Administration of the new program will occur locally, and a local review board will be responsible for lending decisions.
Entrepreneurs will now be able to access Elevate Micro-Loans of up to $15,000. Terms of the loans include 4% interest and 36-month repayment to qualifying businesses in the city limits of Manhattan. To support equitable access to capital, 20% of the Elevate Micro-Loan is designated for economically disadvantaged businesses.
But that isn’t the only good news in terms of access to capital for local entrepreneurs. Network Kansas has added to its previously available programs for the region by adding a new program for Riley, Pottawatomie and Geary Counties called the Empower Fund.
The Empower Fund, a NetWork Kansas pilot program, is designed to provide access to capital for minority business owners facing barriers to traditional financing. Offering loans up to $15,000, the Empower Fund features a 4% interest rate and a 48-month repayment period to qualifying businesses located in Riley, Pottawatomie, or Geary Counties. Lending decisions will be made at the local level by a diverse review board.
You can find out more about these programs and eligibility by going to funding.sparkmhk.com.
Applicants for the Elevate and Empower programs will be required to work with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for technical assistance. The SBDC provides one-on-one, confidential, no-cost consulting services to entrepreneurs and business owners.
We are incredibly proud to have been part of this effort to bring more funding opportunities to support business start-ups. However, it is important to note that it took a lot of collaboration from a number of organizations to make this happen including: the City of Manhattan staff and elected officials, Spark, Black Entrepreneurs of the Flint Hills, K-State Innovation Partners, the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, and NetWork Kansas among others.
The opportunities to start your own business have never been greater. We look forward to continuing to build our entrepreneurial ecosystem in Manhattan.