MANHATTAN — The K-State 105 initiative is supporting small business development in northwest Kansas through a collaborative approach that leverages the expertise and small business connections of higher education and statewide and regional partners.
Two universities — Kansas State University and Fort Hays State University — as well as two K-State 105 partners — NetWork Kansas and the Innovation Center — are working together to expand the service offerings of the FHSU-led Small Business Development Center in northwest Kansas.
"Our K-State 105 initiative focuses on community engagement that drives economic impact and prosperity for Kansas and our 105 counties," said Marshall Stewart, K-State senior vice president and chief of staff. "This type of innovative partnership that brings together higher education and economic development organizations across the state is exactly the type of work in which a next-generation land-grant university should engage.
"Through the partnership, K-State 105 is providing NetWork Kansas with funding that will go to resource partners and support entrepreneurship programming and technical assistance for small businesses in all 105 counties.
"In this instance in northwest Kansas, NetWork Kansas will work with the Innovation Center to enhance the Kansas Small Business Development Center. The FHSU-led Kansas Small Business Development Center, or SBDC, operates as a network of eight regional economic development and business consulting centers that currently serve all 105 counties in the state.
"The businesses and communities of northwest Kansas will benefit greatly from this investment in professional expertise and better access to essential resources the SBDC and the Innovation Center will begin delivering in just a few short months," said Tisa Mason, president of Fort Hays State University. "This initiative will ensure our best business and economic development experts are working every day to advance economic prosperity throughout the High Plains.
"The SBDC and Innovation Center partnership will serve a larger number of clients in northwest Kansas than each organization can serve individually. The partners ultimately expect to serve 432 clients, help start 16 new businesses and conduct 60 capital transactions in fiscal year 2024.
"This new partnership will allow us to collectively deliver more assistance than we have been able to do individually," said Greg Jordan, state director of the SBDC. "Small businesses in western Kansas will reap the benefit of us all working more closely together to help them start, grow and thrive."
"Our shared efforts in the days ahead will contribute significantly to economic prosperity in northwest Kansas," said Scott Sproul, president and CEO of the Innovation Center.
"We congratulate Fort Hays State University, the Kansas Small Business Development Center and the Innovation Center on this impactful advancement and look forward to partnering further on K-State 105," said Erik Pedersen, president and chief operating officer of NetWork Kansas.
"This initiative will work to integrate the resources on campus, as well as statewide, with Kansas small businesses in a way that will strengthen communities, create jobs and increase capital investment. In addition, intentional engagement will happen in critical-issue areas such as workforce, housing and child care."
The K-State 105 funding that will support this initiative comes from the annual state investment that K-State 105 received for fiscal year 2024.
K-State 105 is Kansas State University's answer to the call for a comprehensive economic growth and advancement solution for Kansas. The initiative leverages the statewide K-State Research and Extension network to deliver the full breadth of the university's collective knowledge and solution-driven innovation to every Kansan, right where they live and work.
Additionally, K-State 105 forges the connections and partnerships that create access to additional expertise within other state institutions and agencies, nonprofits and corporations — all part of an effort to build additional capacities and strengths in each of the 105 counties in the state.