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Phillips County Economic Development

DISCOVER

Phillips County, Kansas! A Destination for Opportunity ... Entrepreneurs are discovering geographical pockets in rural America, which are fantastic business development locations. These areas have strong infrastructure, diligent workforce, property and income tax rebates, business grant and loan programs, and other enticing incentives for cultivating an entrepreneurial environment. Having these unique incentives and local programs, the existing businesses are able to expand and new businesses are created. Phillips County, Kansas is definitely leading the charge to develop rural incentives and programs, while inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs to consider planting its roots in this entrepreneurial fertile ground and prospering.

Financial Support Entrepreneurial Business and Enhancement Program connects businesses with funds Everyone in Logan and for miles around loves Main Street Pizza. But when a major piece of equipment was beginning to give out, it looked like they might be saying goodbye to a favorite eatery – until some funding became available. “Our make table, a refrigerated unit that holds all the ingredients and is also where we make the pizza, had come to a point where it couldn’t be repaired,” says Jessica Ashmore, who along with husband Justin owns the pizzeria. “We were struggling to stay afloat at that point in time, so we didn’t have the funds to replace it or take on an additional loan payment. The grant helped us buy a new unit and stay in business.” Such is the value of the Entrepreneur Business and Enhancement Program, which has given out almost $849,000 over the past five years to businesses in Phillips County. “Our county is one of only four in the state to offer a local grant program for entrepreneurial development, which requires applicants to match the funds,” says Jeff Hofaker, Phillips County Economic Development Director. “A number of our businesses needed help to grow, and we realized that a lot of the state incentives were limited to recruitment of manufacturing and large corporations,” Hofaker says. “All our businesses are important, and it’s our Sincere thanks to the Phillips County E-Community Leadership team, the Darwin and Lorene Cole Charitable Foundation, the Albert Morgan & Leona A. Morgan Charitable Foundation, and Phillips County Economic Development for the financial assistance to provide this special section! Special Advertising Section


Phillips County Economic Development

Stacy and Rob Wenzl, owners of Midwest Family Health, promote their newly renamed store. The store features a pharmacy, equipment rental, gifts and a photo center. The Wenzls were a part of the downtown revitalization project and received grant money from PCED to expand their store and create jobs.

entrepreneurs that keep economic growth progressing forward in Phillips County with expansions and new business creation. So we created a local program, funded by sales tax dollars, which could be used by businesses for building renovation, new construction, equipment and marketing.” So far, the program’s $849,000 in grants have been matched by $4.8 million from 36 participating businesses that have received assistance. This business growth has added 85 new jobs throughout their payrolls. Many businesses that have utilized the grant funds have become larger operators bringing more customers to the area, which is a testament to the program’s accessibility and success. One of those growth businesses is Midwest Family Health Pharmacy and Homecare, which until recently was known as Wenzl Drug Inc. The pharmacy has been growing into the durable medical equipment field thanks to a new building made possible in part by grant funds. “We wanted to grow, and weren’t able to do so in our current facility,” says Rob Wenzl, CEO. “We would not have been able to move forward as quickly as we did without the grant funding, and now we are able to grow employees here

and look at expanding into neighboring towns.” Providing these funds makes such a difference in the success of an entrepreneurial business, and that is what the grant program was created for, Hofaker adds. “It’s geared to be a tool to help with gap funding,” he says. “With this assistance they can focus on growth, which is good for their current employees, hiring new workforce, and for the long-term strength of the business and community.” This special section is published for Phillips County Economic Development by Journal Communications Inc.

For more information, contact: Phillips County Economic Development P.O. Box 604 • Phillipsburg, KS 67661 Phone: (785) 543-5809 • Fax: (785) 543-5762 Email: pced@ruraltel.net • www.discoverpced.com ©Copyright 2013 Journal Communications Inc., 725 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 400, Franklin, TN 37067, (615) 771-0080. All rights reserved. No portion of this special advertising section may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent.

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Phillips County Economic Development

Welcome Home! Rural Opportunities Zone Program helps recruit new residents Usually if a government program runs out of money, that’s it until the next round of funding. But when it’s the Rural Opportunities Zone Program, local leaders scramble to locate and put more funds into the coffers right away. This Kansas program designated 50 of the 105 counties to be ROZ zones, one of which is Phillips County. Individuals who relocate to a ROZ zone from out of state receive a fiveyear exemption from state income taxes. A second component forgives student loans up to $3,000 per year, for a maximum of $15,000, over that same five-year period for people who graduate from an accredited post-secondary institution. “The loan-forgiveness program is funded equally by the state and county, and it has been so popular that its local budget has been maxed out twice and we are planning to extend it more,” Jeff Hofaker says. “Since the program started in July 2011, we’ve had 16 people approved for the student-loan program, and two of those have created businesses,” Hofaker says. That’s the case for Patrick and Amber Patterson, who work at Golden Plains Credit Union and Midwest Family Health Pharmacy and Homecare, respectively. After finishing college, they wanted to come back to Phillipsburg but weren’t

sure how they could swing their student-loan payments while they looked for work. ROZ answered that question for them. “I would say it was the sole reason we are back here,” Patrick Patterson says. “We couldn’t just move home and wait for opportunities to come along fitting our specific degrees; this allowed us the chance to return here and get established.” “We knew we wouldn’t find the jobs we wanted right away, so this allowed us to wait for those to come open or be created,” Amber Patterson adds. “Patrick took a position at the local grocery store so we would have some income, and we both eventually found the jobs we have now. The timing of the program, our desire to move back, and job opportunity growth in the area made our dreams come true. We feel lucky and blessed to be in this growing rural area, which allows us to get ahead by getting our student loans paid off.” All of the returnees have jobs and are young people who are bringing or starting families here. “That’s a key demographic the county needs,” Hofaker says. “It’s a perfect place for younger families to grow, and we need these families in these rural areas as well,” he says. “And the people who are coming back are filling or creating higherend employment opportunities, so the inward migration is helping fill new job positions.”

Patrick and Amber Patterson are Phillipsburg natives who moved back to Phillipsburg after receiving a college education. They will receive help paying back their student loans, as well as any other college graduate who chooses to return and reside in Phillips County. Patrick and Amber are pictured with their daughter Lydia and baby number two due in March. 

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Phillips County Economic Development

Farmers & Ranchers Outlet planning started in April 2012. The business was founded by a local small-town farm girl, Nikki Brobst, when she moved back home after graduating college. The business was created to give the local agriculture producer a means of obtaining essential products needed for them to be successful. Farmers & Ranchers Outlet strives to provide great customer service and high-quality products. That way, the agricultural producers of the area can concentrate on supplying the goods the world lives on.

New Construction & Improvements … Savings! Neighborhood Revitalization Plan provides tax rebates for residents and businesses

to build at some point, but this really was a sweetener,” Keesee says. “We knew that a bigger house meant higher costs across the board. This made it feel like we could ease ourselves into those costs thanks to property taxes being kept lower for a while.” Often the only thing holding a business or homeowner On the commercial side, Wes Bainter of Bainter back from renovation or new construction isn’t always the Construction Services says that the program has meant a lot up-front cost of the project but the tax bite afterward. of new construction. Happily, the Phillips County Neighborhood Revitalization “It’s been the difference between us doing several Plan has found a successful way to ease that sting. independent-living complexes and family duplexes in these The NRP program is administered at the local level and communities or not,” Bainter says. “It’s a very dynamic allows business owners and residents to get a tax rebate on tool that communities can use to enable people to get new improvements, spread out over a 10-year period. The projects going and also help people move into an area.” improvement must be appraised at A striking aspect of the $10,000 or above to qualify. The program is how varied the rebate starts at 90 percent and construction and renovation steps down in 10 percent projects are, says Alan Hale, who “The NRP is a helpful incentive increments over a decade, so the as county appraiser helps participant making the property when starting a new business in administer the program. improvement can ease into paying Phillips County as a young “It includes projects of all the higher property tax over time, types, from agricultural to entrepreneur. It takes only a few thus cushioning the tax burden commercial as well as residential,” in their personal or business minutes of your time, but in time Hale says. “That variety is cash flow. makes a huge impact.” really encouraging because “The goal was to help it will help our businesses’ ~ Nikki Brobst, owner of encourage residents and business development. It graduates a owners to build or improve their Farmers & Ranchers Outlet property owner into a higher tax property,” Jeff Hofaker says. bracket, which helps the county “Lessening the property tax financially in the long-term burden for new improvements is support infrastructure but does one of the best ways to do that. It’s one of the most so without hitting the owner with that liability all at once. effective tools in our development toolbox.” People want to make the investment in improvements, but For Dennis Keesee, who is building a new, larger sometimes the improvement isn’t justified or viable because home in Phillipsburg, that was definitely the case. of the taxes. This takes away that immediate hit.” “We had a piece of land in town and were going www.discoverpced.com


Phillips County Economic Development

Seeing Over the Horizon Business BootCamp helps local merchants discover hidden appeal and profits Four years ago, a group of business owners from Phillips County headed west to Longmont, Colorado for a Business BootCamp. Things have never been quite the same in Phillips County since. The camp, which is an extension of Jon Schallert’s Destination University, is designed to help business owners see beyond their immediate scope of business and begin marketing to a larger audience. Whether it’s through advertising, social media or business appearance, the idea is to attract client traffic in from outside the region or state. “It’s pretty remarkable for a two-and-a-half-day camp, but it’s a concept that Phillips County businesses have embraced, applied and have made successful,” Jeff Hofaker says. “We were the first county in the United States to make a four-year commitment to the Community Reinvention Program within the BootCamp by paying the $1,500 registration fee for participants, and every year we have sent six business owners and a community coordinator to the program,” Hofaker says. “When these owners come back,

they continue to work with Jon Schallert, and it’s simply remarkable to see the things they’ve done to increase their business image, marketing, clientele and revenues.” That’s not just bragging. Take the Shepherd’s Mill, which produces everything from yarn to finished fabrics using natural fibers “from alpaca to yak,” according to owner Sally Brandon. As one of the first Business BootCamp attendees, Brandon says she learned how to maximize her business’ appeal through new retail efforts. “We had just purchased a building in downtown Phillipsburg and were really starting from scratch,” she says. “Working with Jon, we designed the building in such a way that we could provide tours so people could see everything being made during the process. Our story is really in the stories of the people we work for, so we have been growing by telling their stories. Now we are drawing customers in from outside the area, promoting ourselves better and keeping it going.” A steady stream of television appearances, not to mention the creation of an iconic pastry, were the fruits of Linda Martin’s time at camp. “When we first went, we thought our business was doing really well,” says Martin, who owns Third Street Bakery.

Linda Martin, owner of Third Street Bakery, proudly displays one of her feature items, the “honker” doughnut. Martin, who attended the Schallert Destination BootCamp, capitalized on her experience by promoting her feature product and enhancing her business with ideas from the BootCamp. Some of those ideas included a makeover of the inside of her bakery, menu changes, special nights and comment cards by her customers.

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Phillips County Economic Development

“We’d been around for 16 years at that point but learned that there was a lot more we could do to really benefit the business now and for the future.” Upon her return she got busy with social media and began to promote the newly invented Big Chocolate Honker, billed as the world’s largest doughnut. When a customer buys a Honker, an antique car horn is honked, and the employees throw their arms up and yell, “wooh.” Soon a nearby television station came calling, which led to regular food segments and more. “We have expanded our catering and are always on the lookout for new things to try,” Martin says. “We have cards on the counter that say ‘I love this place because …’ and we have them returned from all over. My favorite is one from a law enforcement officer who says ‘Our bakeries are our churches, and this is our cathedral.’” Such successes come from learning how to differentiate the business from the competition, Jon Schallert says. “We help them become a place that a consumer just has to go to,” he says. “If you magnify the unique differences of a business, and put those at the forefront, you can affect how a consumer decides where to shop and spend money.” By gathering customers away from home, a new

synergy is created for those business owners, which is why Schallert says Phillips County’s ongoing program has been a good investment. “They all know each other, but here they are doing nothing but working on business positioning and marketing,” he says. “They go back as a whole team and support each other and train other businesses in the community. It really builds momentum for the community and creates a strong entrepreneurial environment for others.”

Pictured above is the first reinvention team of business owners from Phillips County who attended the Schallert BootCamp.

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Phillips County Economic Development

Building Business Here Phillips County E-Community Program encourages leadership, entrepreneurial efforts The Phillips County business community is known for its creative thinkers, and that’s why it is one of the state’s most successful E-Communities. The Entrepreneurial, or E-Community designation comes by way of NetWork Kansas, which promotes growth by connecting small business owners with expertise, education and economic resources. The program allows the county to create a diverse committee made up of a cross-section demographic of community leadership to provide insight toward strategic planning for the business community. Also on the table are Kansas income tax credits that allow the county to raise funds for a zero- to low-interest loan program that can be used with other funding mechanisms, such as local grants, to accelerate startup business development and business expansion. A county must apply and go through a review process to receive the designation. After selection, the county is allocated a certain amount of tax credits, which they then market and sell. Those funds then become the seed capital for the loan program. “Capital is often the missing piece of the puzzle in entrepreneurship, so this program can get that component in place,” says Erik Pedersen, director of entrepreneurship E-Communities for NetWork Kansas. “Basically, a community gets to create a revolving loan fund to provide matching loans to its businesses. The funds are retained by NetWork Kansas, but the decision-making authority as to what business gets them is made by the local group.” One local beneficiary is Bob Yates, who owns radio stations KKAN 1490AM and KQMA 92.5 FM. When he was looking to purchase the stations from his family’s estate and operate them as a sole proprietor, he worked with his bank and PCED to line up seven funding options, which included a traditional bank loan, E-Community financing, a local grant and other NetWork Kansas programs. “Jeff gave us the guidelines to be met, and we did the business planning and other documentation that was required,” Yates says. “We could not have done it all with regular financing, but having the low-interest option for some of the money made it feasible. I don’t know that we would have done it without these funds.” Yates and PCED Director Jeff Hofaker now tout the E-Community Program and other economic-development incentives every two weeks over the air by way of their Destination for Opportunity or DO radio program broadcast. “We talk about all the tools in the toolbox, and we really get a fantastic response,” Yates says. “There are a lot of people who want to know more about all these programs.” There are 39 partner E-Communities throughout Kansas, but Phillips County has set itself apart by creating many

During their weekly talk show, Phillips County Economic Development Director Jeff Hofaker and radio host Bob Yates discuss development for Phillips County. The show is broadcast every other Wednesday morning with Hofaker and Yates discussing issues concerning the county.

At the office of Huck Boyd located in the Huck Boyd Community Center, Kyle Pinkerton, Rob Pinkerton and radio personality Tad Felts listen intently to the broadcast of the weekly PCED talk show. The Huck Boyd Center is the home of many events including school concerts, community performances and banquets.

additional entrepreneurial initiatives that help spur new growth and expand existing business. “They engage young people, provide specialty assistance to high-growth businesses, and map their assets and resources really well,” Pedersen says. “They have created an ecosystem that connects people to resources at the right time, and that’s why they have been such a successful E-community.”

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Discover Phillips County, Kansas