ALMA — NetWork Kansas announced today that Wabaunsee County was selected as a 2012 Entrepreneurship (E-) Community and has been awarded $75,000 in tax credits, enabling the Wabaunsee County E-Community to raise $100,000 to be loaned to local businesses. Wabaunsee County joins a group of 37 other E-Communities.
The E-Community partnership, now in its sixth year, has grown from six communities in 2007 to 38 in 2012. The NetWork Kansas E-Community partnership allows a town, a cluster of towns, or an entire county to raise seed money for local entrepreneurs through donations from individuals or businesses within the community. During the first five years of the E-Community partnership, more than $6 million have been raised. These funds are estimated to generate more than $34.1 million of investment in rural businesses across Kansas.
“The Wabaunsee County Economic Development Council is pleased to bring this opportunity to local businesses. This program will benefit not only new businesses, but existing business expansions as well,” said Abby Amick, council director.
Wabaunsee County assembled a local leadership team of representatives from throughout the county to apply for consideration during the 2012 E-Community Competitive Round. The E-Community leadership team includes Abby Amick, Kara Mayer, Ed Howe, Linda Raine, Ben Kormanik, Velda Hodges, Bud Hund, Gary Dixon, Linda Highland, Cindy Cassity, Carissa McKenzie, Jo Leta Weems, Cindy Manz, Larry Setter, Mike Adams and Dick Poovey. The leadership team will determine the strategy and vision for the E-Community. A separate financial review board will evaluate prospective loan applications from local businesses.
The leadership team submitted a detailed written application to NetWork Kansas in August before being chosen as a finalist. An in-person interview was held between NetWork Kansas and the leadership team this fall that led Director of E-Communities, Erik Pedersen, and Product Manager, Anne Dewvall, to recommend to the NetWork Kansas Board of Directors that Wabaunsee County be approved as a 2012 E-Community
“Many of our partner communities are doing innovative things to help foster a flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said NetWork Kansas Director of E-Communities Erik Pedersen, “They have worked to define a process for connecting startup businesses with resources, and to provide specialty assistance that can facilitate business expansions as well as creating this important gap financing component.”
Wabaunsee County has until mid-December to raise donations in exchange for the tax credits it has been awarded. Interested donors should contact Abby Amick about tax credit availability. The tax credits are valued at 75% of donations and offset income tax liabilities for individuals or businesses.
These funds will then be available beginning in January 2013 to be awarded to local businesses as matching loans. The establishment of the E-Community loan fund represents a significant accomplishment for Wabaunsee County and is the result of ongoing collaboration between area banks and entrepreneurs. In addition to the establishment of the E-Community loan fund, Wabaunsee County will also complete a series of strategic activities during 2013 designed to enhance the effectiveness of the entrepreneurial ecosystem to drive long-term economic growth.
Seven other communities were also named as 2012 E-Communities in addition to Wabaunsee County. They are Ellis County, Humboldt, Liberal, Montgomery County, Reno County, Sherman County, Wabaunsee County, and Wichita County.