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Startups welcome: GBED’s Ignite competition sparks excitement

In November, Great Bend Economic Development announced the Ignite Rural Business competition was getting underway. Entrepreneurs with new businesses or great ideas are encouraged to enter now and compete for a grand prize of $50,000 to be awarded in October of 2023.

But the winning starts much earlier than that. Applications may be submitted via a link on the GBED website,, until June 30, 2023. Then, in round two, the competition pool will be narrowed but some businesses will be selected to engage in a one-on-one meeting with a business planning professional. Each contestant headed to the next round will be paired with a local business mentor.

This contest is a great way for entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas and sell their creativity, regardless of who they are. Finalists will have a chance to make a pitch to a jury in front of a live audience on Oct. 5, 2023, at the Crest Theater. Although GBED President Sara Arnberger said fans of the TV series “Shark Tank” may think of this as Great Bend’s take on the popular show, there will be no “sharks” asking for a percentage of the entrepreneurs’ startups. In addition to the $50,000 first prize, there’s a second-place prize of $30,000 and a third-place prize of $10,000. And those following along the journey of the competition will vote online for the People’s Choice Award and award a business with $5,000.

This competition is a great way for new businesses to gain some exposure as they get off the ground and for entrepreneurs to fill some gaps and missing needs in our community.

Congratulations to GBED and to all who are investing in our community. We look forward to seeing new ideas and seeing what the winners can do with this seed money.