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4th Annual Barton County Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Encourages 7th to 12th Grade Students to Think Big


By Great Bend Economic Development, Inc.


GREAT BEND, Kan. — Barton County’s fourth annual Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge took place on Wednesday during the noon hour. This competition, brought to Barton County by Great Bend Economic Development and the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, was created to challenge our youth, encourage our business community to partner with and mentor our younger generations, and foster an entrepreneurial spirit, and is a partnership with NetWork Kansas. Six Barton County students from 7th grade through 12th grade submitted a business plan and gave a 4-minute pitch presentation to the judging panel during the tradeshow, on Wednesday. The judging panel is made up of a wide array of business professionals. 

NetWork Kansas holds regional and state Youth Entrepreneurship Challenges as part of its mission in developing entrepreneurship ecosystems throughout Kansas. The partnership with NetWork Kansas allows YEC contestants the use of VentureDash, the contestant portal. Great Bend Economic Development and the Great Bend Chamber partner on this competition as both organizations are tasked with strengthening the area’s workforce for the business community, and in this case, that means nurturing the next generation’s entrepreneurs. 

Students learn about writing an executive statement and what is important to share in their 4-minute presentation, but they are also learning soft skills that will help them navigate life in the workforce. A great side effect of this competition is the student competitors gain experience in professional networking with judges, mentors, and the community. 

Student competitors from Ellinwood, Hoisington, Claflin, and Great Bend showed up with many different industries represented. Students had the opportunity to get to know their judges with an ice-breaker lunch before they headed to the Great Bend Event Center ballroom for the tradeshow and pitch portion of the competition.

After the trade show, the awards were announced. Third place and $500 was awarded to Tucker Loesch with Loesch Manufacturing, second place and $750 was awarded to Mady Hammeke with CraftzbyMadyCo, and the first place winner receiving $1000 was Sydney Bailey & Callie Umphres with their business concept, Ariel View. Sydney and Callie can continue onto the state-level competition with their win. The public voted for their favorite and awarded $250 to Ariel View as well. Honorable mention went to Zoey Bogner with her business The Kansas Voice, and Sydney Mattison with Honey Bee Marketing. Watch all the participants’ short format interviews on Great Bend Economic Development’s Facebook page. 

A big thank you to our judges AJ Chrest, Monte Strecker, Laura Strecker, Terry Price, and Lea Ann Seiler for taking the time for this event and giving students great feedback on their business plans. Another thank you to our event sponsors Barton Community College and Equity Bank, and our in-kind sponsor Nex-Tech Wireless for allowing us to use the iPads for judging.