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Governor Laura Kelly Announces $850,000 for Kansas Entrepreneurs

Nov 15, 2022

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~Commerce GROWKS Programs Leverage $4M to Support Small Businesses~

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly announced today the first round of recipients of funding from the GROWKS Loan and Equity programs, which help small businesses, particularly those in underserved areas, access capital in the early stages of growth. In the first round, four companies – three of which are woman-led – received a total of $850,000 in companion financing to bank loans (also known as matching capital).

“The GROWKS Loan and Equity programs break down the barriers entrepreneurs face when trying to start a business,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “My administration is committed to ensuring small businesses – including those in underserved communities – have the opportunity and resources needed to be successful, create jobs, and drive economic growth.”

Earlier this year, Governor Kelly announced the creation of the Kansas Framework for Growth GROWKS Loan Fund and the GROWKS Equity Programs, run through the Kansas Department of Commerce, to distribute $69 million in funding awarded to Kansas through the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). Together, the two programs represent the most expansive set of small business funding programs ever offered by the State of Kansas.

The programs engage Kansas’ extensive network of community and business support partners through NetWork Kansas to provide companion financing to bank loans. The approved $850,000 has already leveraged more than $4 million in private capital. Ultimately, more than $1 billion in funding will be invested by the private sector over the life of the programs, which can be used for common small business expenses such as inventory, equipment, supplies, and working capital.

“Connecting Kansas small businesses to capital that will help them grow and prosper will strengthen the entire state economy,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said. “I am excited to have this first round of GROWKS funding reach the entrepreneurs it is intended to help.”

“The GROWKS program is providing much-needed investment funds to support private investment capital into these innovative businesses,” said Trish Brasted, President of Entrepreneurial Growth Ventures, an organizational unit of NetWork Kansas. “The early-stage capital markets have become more challenging in the last six months, which have increased the importance of this program.” 

The first round of GROWKS Loan and Equity programs recipients include:

  • QuickHire, Inc., a Wichita-based technology platform that connects jobseekers with service-based work opportunities. The funding will be used to support marketing, market research, and commercialization.
  • Celerity Enterprises, Inc., a Kansas City-based technology platform that focuses on settling special pricing agreements between suppliers and distributors. Funding will be used for hiring staff, sales development, and platform upgrades.
  • ELIAS Animal Health, LLC, an Olathe-based medical biotechnology company advancing novel therapies for treating cancer in pets. Funding will be used to expand manufacturing capacity, sales and marketing, and customer service.
  • SoHome Kids Foundation, a Neodesha-based startup company that aims to provide residential facilities to children ages 0-18 in the Kansas foster care system. Funding will be used to renovate a group home.

“Raising capital is one of the greatest challenges that small companies face, and we were thrilled to receive this funding,” said Tammie Wahaus, CEO, ELIAS Animal Health, LLC. “This exciting program comes at a time when the capital markets are tightening, and regional support for local companies is critical.”

For more information about GROWKS, visit www.growks.com.


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