Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Strengthening Topeka's 'Entrepreneurial Ecosystem'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Strengthening Topeka's 'Entrepreneurial Ecosystem'

Article excerpt

In the Holistic Economic Development Strategy released by Market Street earlier this year, the first subheading under the section "Grow a Diverse Economy" urges our community to "Enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem." This ecosystem is defined as the "individuals, organizations, institutions, and programs that support startup activity and small business growth" -- core elements of any healthy economy.

Top Tank is a creative way to demonstrate that Topeka is willing to support entrepreneurship in the city. It's a local contest modeled on ABC's "Shark Tank," which gives participants an opportunity to pitch their business ideas to investors who can choose whether to support them. The winner of Top Tank will receive a $100,000 investment in his or her idea, as well as assistance from six major figures in Topeka's business community: John Dicus, Greg Schwerdt, Jim Klausman, Mark Ruelle, Cody Foster and Brent Boles.

When Top Tank was launched, there were 59 applicants -- a pool that was reduced to 20 in early November and 10 this month. Ideas range from alcohol-infused ice cream (which would be served at Allyson Shove-Chard and Jeremy Chard's 2 Scoops Saloon) to Austin Wright's aDronealine Drone Racing hub. On Feb. 16, Forge will host an event at Norseman Brewing Co. that will give contestants an opportunity to network with one another, and the winner will be announced at the Topeka Performing Arts Center on Feb. 17.

According to Market Street's Community Assessment -- Phase Two of the Momentum 2022 plan to grow our economy and improve quality of life in Topeka and Shawnee County -- it's vital for our city to attract and retain talent. The assessment points out that net migration patterns weren't encouraging between 2004 and 2014: "Topeka-Shawnee County is gaining residents from smaller nearby communities and rural areas while losing residents at an even greater rate to other large and/or highly competitive metro areas. …

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