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Local businesses receive entrepreneurship certificates
Courtesy photo The Growing Rural Businesses class of 2022 includes: Amy Smith (Forest Ave. Antiques); Jerry and Kristie Carmichael (That Hipster Place); Kim Vink (Coldwell Banker Sell Real Estate); Jeremy Elliott (myLawn! Turf & Tree/Have It Maid Cleaning); Kristie Carmichael (That Hipster Place); Jake Fryberger (American National); Ana Hayson (Rana Luna Boutique); Mike Snyder (Hydro-Chem Spray Services); Raza Manase (CPS Landscaping); Vicki Dayton (Dayton Security, Inc.); Cassandra Hernandez (Mary’s Kitchen); Brad Brack (Dilly and Doc Creative Studio); Yoselin Perez (Mary’s Kitchen); Derek Schneider (Kansas Pro Wash); and Joni Carr (Westside Market).

Fifteen local entrepreneurs recently completed the entrepreneurial certificate program “Growing Rural Businesses.” Successfully completing up to 24 hours of coursework earned them a Certificate of Entrepreneurship through Wichita State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship. Brought to Barton County, in partnership with the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, Great Bend Economic Development, and NetWork Kansas’ E-Community Partnership, this eight-week course was custom-made to meet the needs of existing rural business owners who are ready to grow their business as well as look at ways to adapt post-pandemic.

“Building up Entrepreneurship has been a key factor to Great Bend Economic Development’s growth plan for this year,” said Sara Hayden, Great Bend Economic Development President and CEO. “As such, we are so thrilled to see how well the Growing Rural Businesses class was received by class participants. We are committed to continue to bring more resources, training, etc. to help create a community that supports and fosters entrepreneurship on all levels.”

Participants received hands-on, practical solutions and techniques to grow and modernize business ventures while living in a rural setting. Insights and learning tools included small group exercises, case studies, and interactive discussions with peers, facilitators, and industry experts. 

Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Megan Barfield commented on the importance of utilizing state-wide partners and building networks. “This popular training is offered only a few times per year on a competitive basis. More than 260 businesses across a variety of industries have benefited from this instruction.

“It’s crucial that we all work together in providing the biggest impact we can to our local economy. Watching the relationships form in the class was a highlight for me. They cheered one another and broadened their own individual networks.”

A grant to the Great Bend E-Community Fund from NetWork Kansas provided partial funding for the Barton County program.

NetWork Kansas’s Rural Entrepreneurship Senior Product Manager, Christy Preston, said she has enjoyed working with Great Bend’s E-Community as they build. “As an E-Community Coach, with NetWork Kansas, it is very exciting to work alongside a community that is focused on empowering entrepreneurs and building a sustainable eco-system! 

“Through our E-Community partnership, both NetWork Kansas and Great Bend have made the commitment to cultivate and grow an entrepreneurial environment through economic development and community engagement,” Preston added. “We are focused on connecting entrepreneurs and small business owners to the education, expertise, and economic resources they need when they need them.”

To learn more about the “Growing Rural Businesses” program and to express interest in a future session, contact either the Great Bend Economic Development, 620-796-2407, or the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, 620-792-2401.