WICHITA, Kan. -- NetWork Kansas today announced that it is sponsoring the Third Annual High Plains Youth Entrepreneur Fair set for Friday, March 28, at the Rawlins County High School in Atwood. The fair is designed to identify and encourage young entrepreneurs to develop new innovative products or markets that will help revitalize rural economies. Co-sponsors for the event include Ogallala Commons and the Western Prairie Resource Conservation & Development Council.
Towns across the Great Plains have been experiencing an outward migration of high school graduates leaving for college never to return, or young families moving away due to a lack of economic or social opportunities. As part of a larger effort to help reverse this trend and stimulate the local economy, rural communities such as Rawlins County are investing resources and supporting the development of young entrepreneurs.
"Studies we have completed during the past three years indicate that more than 60 percent of students in grades 7 through 12 would return to their rural hometown after college, if provided with sufficient opportunities," said Chris Sramek, director of Rawlins county Economic Development. "In this time of abundant change, entrepreneurship presents a multitude of opportunities to young people in rural communities. Also, it provides those rural communities with an opportunity to reverse the long decline in population that has characterized rural America for so long."
"It's important for Kansas youth to understand that owning your own business is a career option to consider," said NetWork Kansas Director, Steve Radley. "This event gives them the opportunity to think creatively and to learn more about the process of starting your own business. We're excited to be a part of it."
Participants for the event will be chosen based on the creativity, practicality and personal commitment expressed in their application essays. Each of the top 30 applicants will have a booth at the fair on March 28th, where they will showcase their ideas or products in a short presentation and business plan. During the competition, judges will ask questions about the idea/product, its feasibility and how it can contribute to the rural economy. The top three products or concepts exhibited at the fair will receive $1000, $750 and $500, respectively. The competition is open to any young entrepreneur, grades 7-12, with a business idea or community project.
NetWork Kansas was established as a component of the Kansas Economic
Growth Act of 2004 to further establish entrepreneurship and small business as a priority for economic and community development in the State of Kansas. Backed by more than 400 partners statewide, the NetWork Kansas service promotes an entrepreneurial environment by establishing a central portal that connects entrepreneurs and small business owners with the expertise, education, and economic resources they need in order to succeed. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are encouraged to visit or call (877) 521-8600 to speak with a NetWork Kansas counselor.
To submit an application to participate in the event, contact Chris Sramek at:
For more information about Ogallala Commons, visit:http://www.ogallalacommons.org
For more information about Western Prairie RC&D, visit:
For more information about Rawlins County Economic Development