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Pilot Program for Export Assistance Kicks Off in Kansas

By: Steve Radley

About 15 months ago, I visited a rural entrepreneur who had been part of our economic gardening pilot program. I wanted to pick his brain on his experience and determine if there were ways we could improve the program. He was pleased with his economic gardening experience but also mentioned that he was trying to figure out some things about his export market particularly in regard to accessing additional international market research. He then told me that his international business had grown from 10% of sales to more than 25% in 18 months. That blew me away.  

I had heard Karyn Page discuss the significant opportunity that Kansas businesses had in the international market so I called her and was energized by our conversation. NetWork Kansas had been considering applying for a Rural Business Opportunity Grant from USDA but using funding to expand Kansas export opportunities seemed like a fruitful path to take. 

If we partnered with Kansas Global, we could create the ability for rural businesses to receive technical assistance related to this significant opportunity. So, we identified two types of communities:  1. Communities that are part of our Entrepreneurship Community Partnership with known export businesses, and 2. Communities that have known export businesses who are also known by Kansas Global.

In a nationally competitive process, Kansas Global was chosen to receive a $50,000 Rural Business Opportunity Grant from USDA Rural Development to conduct a pilot in the following counties:  Barton, Butler, Cowley, Harvey, McPherson, Mongtomery, Osborne, and Rawlins.

For a limited time, businesses can receive what amounts to a 40% plus discount on services that include: 1. Detailed market research, 2. Assistance in identifying supply chain sources, and 3. Training and education.

The roadshow has begun. Kansas Global has already visited Cowley, Harvey, and McPherson. Businesses in these areas should check with their local economic development office to see when Kansas Global is coming their way.  The more Kansas businesses learning about how to export or increase the exporting they are already doing, the better!  KS Global in Harvey County