|Funding from a new $154,000 USDA Rural Business Development Grant will allow The Healthy Bourbon County Action Team to help create jobs, save jobs, and give local and regional small businesses a better chance at success.
The work will be done through The Center for Economic Growth, a program of The HBCAT. The grant activities will focus primarily on Fort Scott, but will include Allen, Crawford, and Linn counties in educational events and engagement.
The grant will directly impact small businesses like The Hamilton’s Artisan Bakery, owned by Teri Hamilton, who will work with the Pittsburg State University Small Business Development Center — a partner of The HBCAT and The CEG — to add three full-time employees in the next two years with a long-term goal of adding 20 employees. Assistance also will include a marketing plan and website.
And, like The Shire Farm LLC, owned by Bradie and Noah Terry, who will develop a business wholesale agreement with a local restaurant, creating two full-time jobs and the potential to expand to include others.
Bartlesmeyer Jewelry Store, has been a staple in Bourbon County for many years, and the grant will help the center work with Krista Hulbert to purchase it, saving 4.5 full-time employees and creating an additional full-time job.
Samantha Rogers, who is in her early 20s and running her first business — The Baby Stitch — will work with the center to apply for additional capital so that she can move her online boutique to a physical location. Her plans are to have four full-time employees.
“These are just a few examples of the many local small businesses this grant will give us the opportunity to help,” said Rachel Carpenter, executive director of The HBCAT.
Providing technical assistance is important to the success of small business, noted Carpenter.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year. By the end of the second year, 30 percent of businesses will have failed. By the end of the fifth year, about half will have failed. And by the end of the decade, only 30 percent of businesses will remain — a 70 percent failure rate.
“Studies also show that those who receive counseling on business plans and financial strategies are more likely to report positive outcomes and overall survival,” she said. “Having such support services through the SBDC will mean the rate of successful businesses in Bourbon County is bound to increase.”
President and CEO Jody Hoener noted that the county has a high poverty rate and many barriers that prevent a resident from being successful at keeping a small business open and creating wealth for their family.
“This grant will help connect clients with financial resources such as loans, gap financing, education, training, and more,” she said.
The grant also will benefit the local and regional community by increasing the number of days the PSU SBDC serves the Fort Scott area from one day per week to three. The PSU SBDC provides customized training and consulting services to help businesses improve their productivity, efficiency, and build their market base.
And, the grant will help The HBCAT offer a central location for interviews, business meetings, and general business needs.
“Providing local businesses with expertise and guidance, especially in these very turbulent times, has shown to be a critical resource to increasing the number of business start-ups and number of available quality jobs,” said Hoener.
Total Capital Injection since October 2020, $3,318,637.28.
Other partners taking an active part in the grant include Southeast Kansas KANSASWorks and the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce.
About The HBCAT
The mission of The HBCAT is to increase access to healthy food and physical activity, promote commercial tobacco cessation, enhance quality of life and encourage economic growth. The problems of health inequity and social injustice are complex in nature and inextricably linked to key economic indicators. A healthy workforce is a prerequisite for economic success in any industry and in all cities.
Learn more at HBCAT.org. Find HBCAT on Facebook at facebook.com/HealthyBBCo/
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