Entrepreneurial program launches with hopes for growth in Great Bend, Barton County

The program allows entrepreneurs to pitch business ideas to a panel of judges with an award of up to $50,000 for the winning idea.
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 6:41 PM CST
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GREAT BEND, Kan. (KWCH) - Great Bend Economic Development is looking to grow its town by launching a new program for entrepreneurs. With the program, called “Ignite,” entrepreneurs will pitch business ideas to a panel of judges. The winning groups will receive up to $50,000 to start their own business.

The Ignite program is a Shark Tank-inspired idea that aims to bring new businesses to the Barton County town.

“So, basically what it is, is entrepreneurs from anywhere can apply to compete. They would apply with a business plan, a five-minute pitch about their business, and, of course, what they would want to sue the prize money for,” Great Bend Economic Development President Sara Arnberger explained.

With up to $50,000 up for grabs, Arnberger said she wants this competition to inspire people to make a difference.

“These winners are not just going to be coached along their journey up to the competition date. But then for an entire year after winning, they’re going to have that one-on-one support to make sure their first year of business is very successful,” Arnberger said.

The Ignite program focuses on growing young businesses, as well as starting new ones. The plan is for those new businesses that emerge from the competition to stay in Barton County.

Great Bend entrepreneur and member of the Ignite Entrepreneurship Committee Mark Mingenback, said the program’s incentives should help new Great Bend businesses thrive.

“What we found over the years, is that some of the most successful businesses in our community were homegrown,” Mingenback said.

There are other benefits for the community.

“Let’s say you have three or four companies that have five employees each. There’s 20 people that end up needing housing, they’re going to send their children to school, and they’re going to spend money,” Mingenback said.

He said the end goal of Ignite is to make Great Bend a better place.

“It’s all about growing our own, and this is a tool that allows us to grow the community of Barton County,” Mingenback said.