Initiative in Kansas Fosters Entrepreneurship Across Local Communities

By Trish Svoboda

According to Amber Dunn, the program manager of a Kansas-based organization offering free assistance to startup businesses in the state, 2023 marked the company’s most successful year in serving the region’s aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators.

Dunn stated that NXTUS, Inc. enabled connections for over 1,000 startup businesses with community resources, while also aiding in securing nearly $1.5 million in capital and increasing the customer base for early-stage businesses, with many located in Kansas.

On February 2nd, Dunn served as the keynote speaker for the First Friday e-Call, a monthly online series organized by K-State Research and Extension aimed at fostering small businesses and promoting entrepreneurship in Kansas.

Dunn shared several trends since NXTUS was formed in 2016, including:

· Studies suggest that for every 1% rise in a state’s entrepreneurship rate, poverty diminishes by 2%.

· A higher number of startups equates to more job opportunities. Dunn emphasized that virtually all net new jobs originate from small and young businesses.

· Retaining and attracting modern talent enables economic growth. Modern talent strengthens the ecosystem supporting innovators, and facilitating their success.

The company offers an eight-week program featuring weekly one-on-one coaching sessions, in-person workshops, and additional resources. In addition, it hosts two pilot competitions where entrepreneurs from Kansas or anywhere in the U.S. can collaborate with corporate partners for a designated period.

NXTUS also hosts a competition in which entrepreneurs can pitch their ideas to investors.

“We are really proud of the diversity of groups that we work with,” Dunn said. “Yet, there’s always an effort to do more and provide more service to everyone. We’re pretty proud of how the (business) cohorts have expanded across Kansas.”

Dunn’s full talk and other First Friday presentations are available online from K-State Research and Extension.

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