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$50,000 first-place prize offered
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Great Bend Economic Development’s “Ignite Rural Business” entrepreneurship competition is growing its contestant pool and creating awareness across Kansas, according to GBED President Sara Arnberger.

This competition aims to empower, support and nurture entrepreneurs in Barton County, but Great Bend Economic Development is targeting all Kansans in the hopes of driving more business here. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to begin their journey in the competition soon. 

Contestants have already started to join the competition over the last few weeks. A few of the contestants are startups and the others are in the concept phase of their businesses. It has been exciting for GBED staff to see the diverse group of entrepreneurs joining this new competition in the hope of taking their business to the next level. While some of the contestants are locals, a few of them are from outside Barton County and willing to relocate to start their businesses here. 

As the live event gets closer, businesses/names will be released. But for those interested in throwing their hat in the ring, the time is now. The more time contestants have to work on their business plan and pitch, the better off they are. The deadline for submitting all materials is June 30.

GBED and the Ignite committee can connect contestants to the Small Business Development Center and business mentors from local successful companies to help tighten up their business plans.

To those thinking they would like to participate in Ignite, serious prize money is on the line, with $95,000 in total prize money to be given out at the Oct. 5 live event. The first-place winner will receive $50,000.

Those interested in competing will not only have the opportunity for exposure of their business, but also assistance from local business professionals. With a major infusion of capital and a year of support, sponsors said they hope prospective contestants see the real value of joining Ignite Rural Business.

With the help of the Ignite committee as well as NetWork Kansas and the Small Business Development Center, Great Bend Economic Development hopes to assist businesses in getting connected to the resources they need to succeed. Venture Dash allows contestants to submit materials and track their progress. 


How to participate

For details on how to join the Ignite competition, go to for a full list of information, deadlines, and requirements. To get involved as a business mentor or sponsor the live event, contact GBED President Sara Arnberger at