Small business in SEK | Fort Scott Biz

Gregg Motley. Chairman of the Bourbon County Economic Development Council. Photo submitted.

It’s hard to run a small business in Southeast Kansas, and for that matter, anywhere in rural America, and be successful in the long run. The idea of ​​a business is to create value; a net worth that can be passed on to the next generation or sold with a net profit. If your goal is to make money, find a job and work for a business owner, as it’s not worth risking capital and long hours just to earn a salary.

Plus, it gets harder and harder to create value whenever the population around a small business shrinks. I have seen Bourbon County business owners who have been successful for a long time trying to sell their profitable business, only to learn that it has little value other than the liquidation value of the assets. accumulated. Heartbreaking!

Consider these 2018 figures on outstanding small business loans (listed by original loan amount) in some selected SEK counties:

county # of loans Total $ Average height

Allen 122 $ 6,571,000 $ 53,861

Bourbon 125 $ 4,193,000 $ 33,544

Cherokee 144 $ 8,887 $ 61,715

Linn 82 $ 2,847,000 $ 34,720

Neosho 125 $ 3,090 $ 26,870

We are placed in the middle of the field, holding our own place. Obviously, there are some successful small businesses in SEK that don’t have any outstanding loans, but the funding usually goes hand in hand with the investment to help an entrepreneur get the benefits of their efforts. $ 4.2 million is not a lot in total county small business loans. If small farm loans were added, the amount would increase exponentially.

A huge problem for small rural businesses, including SEK, is that government loan programs, such as the Small Business Administration (SBA), are more difficult for us to access. The upfront costs and fees, along with cumbersome regulations and requirements make SBA applications smaller and prohibitive. For example, there are hardly any SBA 504 loans (a popular building construction finance program) going on in SEK, due to the increased cost of the required professional supervision and the fact that contractors have to pay Davis- wages. Bacon (union scale), which is way more than what the market currently commands. All of these requirements leave this valuable tool, and others, beyond our reach.

The solution? In addition to lobbying Congress to lend support programs focused on rural America, seek to start businesses that sell products in growing markets. For example, the traffic count on Highway 69 continues to increase, bringing more consumers to our county every day. Several new businesses have opened on South Main in recent years to take advantage of this.

Support mentoring programs for young people who develop entrepreneurial thinking. The e-Community program, run by the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce, hosts an annual youth entrepreneurship competition that encourages our students to brainstorm business concepts and come up with a business idea for our people. communities. The cash prize is big and the turnout is good.

Bourbon County REDI is ready (pun intended) to support your business idea and help you plan your business. Call Rob Harrington at 620-215-0144 with any questions.

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