A new Kansas City, Kan., entrepreneurship effort was one of five new groups selected for participation in NetWork Kansas’ E-Communities program. As an E-Community, the KCK Urban E-Community will receive an allocated amount of gap financing funds to loan to local businesses. In addition, selection as a NetWork Kansas E-Community opens up participants in the Kansas City group to an array of NetWork Kansas entrepreneurial training programs.

Network Kansas, a 12-year-old nonprofit, helps develop entrepreneurship across Kansas by connecting aspiring, emerging and established entrepreneurs across Kansas with needed funding and business-building resources. The program’s focus areas are rural communities with populations less than 50,000 and urban “distressed” areas.

The KCK Urban E-Community brings together three individuals who have been actively serving as entrepreneurship resource providers in the KCK community. The E-Community co-leaders are: Kira Hopkins, CEO and founder of Entrepreneur Business Basics; Dr. Alicia Hooks, director of Entrepreneurship, Workforce and Career Center, Kansas City Kansas Community College; and Dr. Donnetta Watson, founder and CEO of the National Black MasterMind Group.

“This is such a great opportunity to bridge existing resource partners with the entrepreneurs in Kansas City, Kan.,” said Hopkins. “Having the support of NetWork Kansas will help us to ensure the future of a healthy ecosystem for small business owner’s right here in our community. We look forward to being able to help fill the gaps for entrepreneurs by way of funding, programming and one-on-one support.”

With the addition of five new E-Community partnerships this year, NetWork Kansas has grown to include 64 partnerships across Kansas. Together, they have provided $18.9 million to businesses, leveraging an additional $88.1 million.

The KCK E-Community will have $300,000 to $400,000 annually for funding. More than just providing gap-funding, Erik Pedersen, vice president of entrepreneurship for NetWork Kansas, says the E-Community will focus on the “how to” and help facilitate entrepreneurial growth in KCK.

Some of the available NetWork Kansas programming the E-Community may decide to offer locally includes:

The Ice House Student Success Program: A student success course designed to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in new college students or high school students preparing for college.

Destination BootCamp: This intensive training is for business owners who want to receive in-depth instruction, strategies, and tactics to become a dominant destination business.

Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge: The YEC series gives Kansas students hands-on experience thinking entrepreneurially with a competition program that feeds to regional and state competition.

NetWork Kansas is funded through State of Kansas Entrepreneurship Tax Credits. Every year, the organization sells the tax credits to raise money for the program. In 2019, they raised $2.6 million through the tax credit program and will funnel $2 million of that funding to the E-Community partners.

For more information about this NetWork Kansas program visit www.networkkansas.com/ecommunities.

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Bonita Gooch

Since 1996, Bonita has served as as Editor-in-Chief of The Community Voice newspaper. As the owner, she has guided the Wichita-based publication’s growth in reach across the state of Kansas and into...

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