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It starts with a spark
IGNITE finale is Oct. 5

Great Bend Economic Development is counting down to the finale of its entrepreneurship competition, “Ignite Rural Business.”

The live finals will start at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Crest Theater, 1905 Lakin Ave. The finalists and their entrepreneurs are:

• 10-39 Cafe, with Chance and Brittney Bailey and Jarrett and Audrey Mermis

• Greystone, with Rob and Andrea Bauer and Matt and Dena Hiss

• Hatchet Axtion, with Johan Sanchez and Sage Cauley

•  Manases Turf, with Raza and Kevin Manase

 • Rühe Day Spa, with Danielle Lee

You can read more about the finalists on the GBED webpage

Next Thursday’s show has been pitched as a “Shark Tank” inspired competition to drive entrepreneurship in Barton County. The semi-finalists were provided 10 minutes to present their company and attempt to convince the members of the jury of the merits of their business concept. Every pitch was followed by Q and A time from the jury. The five finalists will be making one last pitch at the Grand Finale.

Jury members will base their decision on the innovation, creativity and long-term business strategy and viability of the entries. The winner will receive $50,000. There is also $30,000 for the runner-up, $10,000 for third place, and $5,000 for the People’s Choice award.

Along the way, promising contestants have been paired with representatives from the Small Business Development Center and local business mentors to help them with planning.

We used to dream of bringing major companies to Barton County. There were always rumors of big businesses that wanted to come here but were somehow discouraged by a cabal of Powers That Be. In truth, homegrown, small businesses are an important economic engine. When they are successful, small businesses put money back into the local economy by creating meaningful jobs; the owners pay taxes and unique businesses are an attraction for local and prospective residents, improving our quality of life. 

However, starting a new business is hard. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years. According to business owners, reasons for failure include money running out, being in the wrong market, a lack of research, bad partnerships, ineffective marketing, and not being an expert in the industry. There are no guarantees, but Great Bend Economic Development’s Ignite Rural Business competition is designed to address most of those issues.