Todd and Amanda VanSkike knew that their first year as business owners might not be easy, but all their hard work is paying off now as they look back on a successful first year owning Golden Belt Bicycle Company in downtown Great Bend. “I knew I wanted to work with bikes. I had worked in the bike shop since 2008 and I’m passionate about cycling and building custom bikes,” Todd says. “But when the shop was for sale, we had talked to numerous banks and we didn’t have the collateral to meet traditional financing requirements. And that’s where CKDI came in.”
The young couple were relieved to find out about Central Kansas Development Inc, a for-profit investment company in Central Kansas that exists to promote economic development through gap financing and non-traditional business loans. “Not only was getting the loan from CKDI so much easier than the traditional loan programs, but it was also great to have someone to hold our hand for the first year in business,” Amanda VanSkike says. “The board members met with us monthly, and helped us think through big decisions and plan for the future. They pointed out things we wouldn’t have thought of, and it was great to have their expertise in our corner.”
Central Kansas Development Inc (CKDI) was founded more than 60 years ago to promote economic development by financing new opportunities for entrepreneurs and business leaders in Central Kansas. Since the 1950s, the group has helped dozens of companies expand their operations, purchase new equipment, acquire real estate, and overcome barriers keeping them from growth and success. “More than 20 percent of small businesses fail in their first year, and 30% fail in the second year. CKDI exists to provide confidential financing, but also to help ensure the success of the businesses we partner with through mentorship,” says Barry Bowers, CKDI Board President. “All of our volunteers live and work here, and we want to invest in the future of this community.”
And in the case of Golden Belt Bicycle Company, CKDI was able to help with the initial purchase and inventory. Since last summer, Todd and Amanda VanSkike have learned a lot about inventory management, bookkeeping, marketing, business forecasting, etc. “For anybody that is just starting out, we definitely encourage you to get an outside opinion, and CKDI is a great place to start if financing is part of what you’re missing,” Amanda says. “Getting other business owners involved that you can trust is critical to have someone to bounce ideas off of, get advice from, and help with forecasting. It also held us accountable from one month to the next. We probably would’ve done okay without CKDI, but now we feel so much more organized and confident in what we are doing.”
Golden Belt Bicycle Company is located at 1111 Main Street in downtown Great Bend and offers a wide variety of recreational and competitive bicycles for sale, as well as repairs and maintenance. Their retail location is open five days per week, with group rides and other local cycling events outside of those hours. For more information, look them up on social media or contact them at 620-793-7060.