To foster growth in the region, the Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation has worked with numerous minority-owned businesses to help them gain access to funds and other resources. By connecting entrepreneurs with the Small Business Development Center and NetWork Kansas, PCEDC has helped fledgling businesses get off the ground and established businesses expand.
As an E-Community partner with NetWork Kansas, PCEDC can leverage the organization’s loan funds and training opportunities to assist local entrepreneurs and small businesses. Statewide, NetWork Kansas has granted 811 loans totaling $26.2M to 773 businesses as of March 2022. These have included minority- and women-owned enterprises and represented restaurant, retail and manufacturing sectors.
In addition to their drive to succeed, a common denominator for many of these business owners is their faith. Many relocated their families to Pottawatomie County to be part of the Society of St. Pius X Roman Catholic community.
“These families have brought with them a strong work ethic and an exemplary spirt of entrepreneurism,” said Jack Allston, executive director, PCEDC. “We wanted to raise awareness of their success stories and to showcase the church, which has attracted many families who want to be part of a like-minded community with a strong emphasis on family and faith.”
Paramount Wine and Spirits in Manhattan
The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in the Rada family and PCEDC has worked with two generations to help their individual businesses. Manuel Rada, owner of Paramount Wine and Spirits, received an E-Community loan for his liquor store, located along Highway 24 in Manhattan. Manuel’s father Jose also owns a liquor store, Rada’s Cellar Wine and Spirits, in St. Marys, and has leveraged resources available through PCEDC to help grow his business.
Natural Choice Company in St. Marys
After moving to Kansas to raise their growing family and expand their military tactical supply business in 1995, Miguel and Dora Garcia were blindsided when their young son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. They shifted their focus to essential oils and naturopathic remedies. The couple worked with the SBDC, NetWork Kansas and PCEDC to develop Natural Choice Company, a new business manufacturing essential oils, household cleaners and personal care items. They received an E-Community loan in 2020 and were awarded the Governor’s Award for Minority Manufacturing Business of the Year in 2021.
Loretta’s Artisanal Bakery and Café in Belvue
Loretta Lopez and her husband Galdino converted a historic building on Highway 24 into a local eatery serving up Mexican and American cuisine, along with a tempting array of baked goods. The couple received assistance from the SBDC to draft a business plan, which paved the way for PCEDC to help them secure an E-Community loan from NetWork Kansas for startup costs in 2016. Despite a personal tragedy with Galdino’s unexpected death in 2020, the business is thriving and Loretta hopes to expand the operation by introducing wholesale services and baking mixes.
Flint Hills Dental P.A. in St. Marys
Dr. Antoinette Cancelada, D.D.S., is on a faith-based mission to improve the quality of life and health of her patients by providing excellent dental care. She completed an advanced education in general dentistry residency at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Dentistry, and is the only dental provider in the region with this training. Antoinette’s husband, David, serves as the clinic’s secretary and treasurer. After relocating to St. Marys, the couple worked with PCEDC to help establish and grow their clinic.
The Immaculata and Society of St. Pius X in St. Marys
A unifying force in attracting these families and businesses to the area is a growth investment in its own right: The Immaculata.
The church, slated for completion in early 2023, is a $30-million, 66,000-square-foot project that includes a reliquary chapel, four side chapels, a sanctuary, parish hall and more. It will be the largest SSPX-built church in the world, able to seat over 1,500 parishioners.
Initially a Jesuit college and seminary constructed in the early 1900s, the original Immaculata burned down in 1978 shortly after being acquired by the SSPX. Despite the loss, the parish continued to grow, attracting Catholic families from around the world. Many people, such as the business owners highlighted above, moved to Pottawatomie County because of the church, its affiliated school St. Mary’s Academy and College, and business opportunities.
While the new Immaculata is under construction, SSPX offers masses at its Assumption Chapel, attracting more than 4,000 parishioners each week.
A member of the Greater Manhattan Economic Partnership, PCEDC was founded “to encourage local businesses and industries to expand and new businesses and industries to locate in Pottawatomie County.” They achieve this mission by providing business services, workforce development, resources for target industries and more. Learn more about PCEDC.
NetWork Kansas continues to expand programs for entrepreneurs with more opportunities for target industries, women- and minority-owned businesses and equity investment programs. Learn more about E-Community partnerships and loans at NetWork Kansas.
The region has built a strong ecosystem for entrepreneurs. From Spark, a one-stop-shop for local entrepreneurs, to the SBDC to tailored programs like the Black Entrepreneurs of the Flint Hills, resources abound for established business owners and startups alike to access support and find community.