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Competitions and Awards

missouri-entrepreneur-of-the-yearMake your company a household name and get well deserved recognition by competing for and winning locally and nationally sponsored awards.

Check the list below for Kansas City's most prominent business competitions that are currently taking nominations.

If you'd like to list a competition or award, please contact

Application Deadline: Initial review of applications will begin February 24, 2017 and continue until all funds have been awarded.


Kansas State University has partnered with the Kansas Department of Commerce and KS State Bank to offer entrepreneurs across the state of Kansas the ability to access funding to help develop new ideas or grow Kansas-based goods-producing businesses. This grant program seeks to support the development of new business opportunities across the state that have the potential to generate revenue through product sales and create jobs in the near term. Grant awards from $5,000 up to $15,000 will be made on a case by case basis and will be judged on the strength of the application by a K-State advisory panel and approved by the Kansas Department of Commerce.

Program Guidelines and Requirements: Applications are open to all Kansas-based individuals or companies, including but not limited to the following stages of development: Entrepreneurial concepts or ideas, Proof of concept development, Start‐ups (not limited to first stage), and/or Existing company growth opportunities.

The application should focus on how the funding will be utilized to move the project or business forward to achieving the next step in its growth process. This may include business planning, engineering support, prototyping, market assessments, marketing materials or other activities that would assist in adding value to the business. Grants will not be awarded to cover wages, bonuses, capital equipment purchases (in excess of $5,000), building purchases or other types of business relocation expenses.

Awardees will be required to report to K-State for a period of up to 18 months on the use of the funds and the impact it had on the venture. These reporting requirements may include: Additional capital raised by company, Sales growth and projections, and/or Additional number of jobs created.

Grant Awards: Grant awardees will typically be notified within 4 weeks of application if the application is approved or denied. If approved, a simply contractual award will be made and the entrepreneur will be responsible for submitting a plan of action and timeline for use of funding. Payment of award will be made in full upon execution of grant contract. All funding must be spent by awardee no later than August 31st, 2017. Entrepreneurs will be responsible for providing documentation of measureable outcomes as a result of the grant funding.

Application Instructions: All interested parties can apply for the JumpStart Kansas grant program by completing the online application form found here: K-State JumpStart Application.
Application Deadline: McCarthy Mortenson is preparing the bid now - more information available at contact below

McCarthy Mortenson is preparing to bid WC# 127 for the Stone, Ceramic and Terrazzo Flooring scope of work for the National Bio and Agro-Defense (NBAF) Project in Manhattan, KS. Interested bidders should contact Shelby Speirer by email or by phone (815) 830-7901 for more information, and to start the registration and prequalification process to submit a proposal on this scope of work.
Application Deadline: Once Funds Become Exhausted (Apply NOW!)

Applications are now open for grants of up to $5,000 through the new KC Global Cities Initiative (GCI) Micro-grant program. Grants must be spent on improving the applicant’s ability to access world markets. Marketing production for international markets, translation services, and market research are just three examples of many eligible expenses.
The micro-grant program is made possible thanks to a grant from JPMorgan Chase, which, along with the Brookings Institute, funds the Global Cities Initiative and its network of 28 metropolitan areas. Kansas City’s GCI Steering Committee released the area’s first regional export plan and implemented the plan’s export concierge concept, centered at the KC Chamber’s World Trade Center.
“This is an important part of the World Trade Center’s mission to increase Greater Kansas City’s share of the international pie by supporting our local businesses in exporting,” says Joe Reardon, President and CEO of the KC Chamber. “With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the U.S., the opportunities are there. Our thanks to JPMorgan Chase for their generosity and support.”
Interested companies must have fewer than 500 employees and be located in the Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). That includes Jackson, Clay, Cass, Platte, Bates, Lafayette, Ray, Caldwell, and Clinton counties in Missouri, and Leavenworth, Wyandotte, Johnson, Miami, and Linn counties in Kansas.
Information and applications are at

Application Deadline: TBA (For more info, visit LaunchKC)

"LaunchKC is a series of initiatives by the City of Kansas City, Missouri, in partnership with local businesses, to develop startup companies in downtown Kansas City... The LaunchKC initiative is designed to provide policy and marketing guidance for a sector specific recruitment and expansion initiative that will qualitatively change the perception of Kansas City’s capabilities for emerging innovation technology companies, and for public sector incentives.  Most of the past and current innovation technology activity has had an “epicenter” in the Crossroads area of downtown Kansas City, Missouri.  The function of LaunchKC is to focus the attention of new and emerging firms to Kansas City on the Crossroads area (and the greater downtown) as a specific area that currently provides exceptional data transmission capabilities, a youth-oriented quality of life, and a reputation for creativity." (Taken from the EDC of KC website)

Previous winners include Big Bang, ConsultUS, FEWDM, Mobility Designed, Mycroft AI, Super Dispatch, Blooom, KC Drone Company, PopBookings, and VideoFizz.

What do you win? Eight winners will receive $50,000 grants - and one winner will receive a grant awardof $100,000. If you're interested in learning more about LaunchKC, including the various other stellar benefits awarded to the winners, check out the LaunchKC 2017 Kickoff Celebration set for February 1, from 5pm - 7pm.

Application Deadline: TBA

What's in it for Me?
No cost, no equity
Access to world-class faculty
Student research team
Alumni mentor and industry expertise
Startup grants provided to those that complete the program

Eligibility Criteria
Innovative, for-profit, scalable business idea
Based in Kansas
Founder receptive to feedback and “has what it takes”
Desire to validate idea and can commit to the program
No outside funding raised

The selected businesses will take part in a five-session summer program, receiving much-needed resources, including faculty-led courses, hands-on student research teams and access to the university's world-class alumni mentor network. The Launch a Business, or LAB, program is specifically intended for early-stage companies and will provide the building blocks for turning a concept into a successful venture.

To learn more about the benefits of the LAB Program, Click here to meet the 2015 LAB Class. To apply for the LAB Program, click here. For more information, contact Chad Jackson at

Application Deadline: March 31, 2017

Nominate Now! We are currently accepting nominations for the following categories:
Entrepreneur of the Year
Professional Leader of the Year
Civic Leader of the Year

Click here to download the nomination form. Submit your nominations to Sook Park at

Application Deadline: March 31, 2017

Quote No. 101 Fun Guide Brochure for Parks + Rec

To obtain a copy of the bid documents, visit our website at .  Select “How Do I…”; “Bidding Opportunities”; “Bid Opportunities”; “View Current Bid Opportunities”.  Scroll down to the Invitation to Bid Number and click on the Invitation to Bid Number.  If you need additional assistance please call 816-881-3267.

Please apply as a New Vendor while visiting our website to receive notifications of upcoming solicitations.

Application Deadline: April 14, 2017

The KC Animal Health Corridor is now accepting applications for the ninth annual KC Animal Health Investment Forum taking place August 29, 2017, in Kansas City, Missouri. The forum will showcase animal health and nutrition companies from throughout the world. The selection committee will consider companies that meet the following criteria:

   • Seeking $500,000 to $20 million in funding 
   • Revenue projections of $20 million within 5-7 years

To begin the application process, create a profile on the KC Animal Health Corridor website. If you are returning to an application in progress, please login below with your username and password. For additional information, please contact Emily McVey.
Application Deadline: April 24, 2017

This award is given to financial professionals in the KC region for outstanding performance in their roles as corporate stewards.

Nominations must be accepted by March 2017. An event honoring the award winner will be held in June 2017.

- Nominees must be chief financial officers or hold equivalent positions in the counties of
Jackson, Cass, Clay, Ray or Platte in Missouri; or Johnson, Wyandotte or Leavenworth in Kansas.
- Application can be filled out by CEO or CFO.

Pro-Tip: Application looks great, stands out, has been proof-read, follows all directions. Answer how you have impacted company and community (board membership in particular). Encourage your humble CFOs to go through the process as it is a great way to highlight the company. If the CFO is doing well, the company is doing well. No surprise nominations – tell them you nominated them!
Application Deadline: May 12, 2017

The SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership has announced the launch of the 2017 InnovateHER Challenge. "InnovateHER provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. to showcase products and services that have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families, have the potential for commercialization, and fill a need in the marketplace" (Read more from the SBA here).

Contestants need to develop products or services that have measurable impacts on women and families' lives, are potentially market-ready, and have identified and fulfilled a current need in today's markets.

Contestants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents at least 18 years old (at the time of submission). Contestants may also be private corporations/organizations that are incorporated/primarily located in the United States.

You can find more information as it is posted about the Challenge here, or email
Application Deadline: May 14, 2017

Maker Faire Kansas City celebrates things people create themselves — from new technology and electronic gizmos to urban farming and “slow-made” foods to homemade clothes, quilts and sculptures. This family-friendly event demonstrates what and how people are inventing, making and creating. It brings together Makers, Crafters, Inventors, Hackers, Scientists and Artists for a faire full of fun and inspiration. Come see what others are making and be inspired to tap into your own creativity!

Apply now to join in on the "Greatest Show & Tell on Earth"!

Learn more about the application process, including tips on applying and entry information here.
Application Deadline: May 19, 2017

Commends up-and-coming leaders in Kansas City’s business and civic spheres. The goal of the Next Gen Leaders award is to have a group of up and coming leaders that gathers regularly. We are looking for those who will be engaged.

Nominations must be accepted by April 2017. Applications will be accepted from May - June 2017. An event honoring the award winner will be held in July 2017.

- Nominee must have direct reports and/or P&L responsibility.
- Nominees must live and work in the Kansas City metropolitan area (Jackson, Cass, Clay, Ray, Platte counties in Missouri; and Johnson, Wyandotte, Leavenworth counties.

Pro-Tip: Application needs to look great, stand out, have been proof-read, follow all directions. Show that you are giving back to community and making an impact. Judges are looking for those who have already begun to leave their mark on the KC community. They are not looking for someone who just wants to put an award on their Linkedin profile. This is not a ‘40 under 40’ award. The age range among 2016 honorees ranged from 28-48. Only one nomination is needed per person. Judging is not based upon number of nominations and will not help. Requires a reference letter from current CEO (or C-Suite executive with whom you currently work). Better to have one top person from company nominated rather than several (strange to have 3 letters of recommendation from same CEO, for example).
Application Deadline: May 26, 2017

Honors the top-ranking women at for-profit businesses in the Kansas City area.

Nominations will be accepted in April 2017. Applications accepted in May 2017. And event honoring the award winner will be held in August 2017.

- Must be an entrepreneur, a top-ranking corporate woman in the Kansas City region, or a partner leading a practice group or serving on an executive committee.
- Engaged in for-profit business.
- Living and working in the Kansas City metropolitan area (Ray, Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri; and Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties in Kansas).
- If an entrepreneur, business must have been in operation for a minimum of three years.
- If a corporate executive, must have been in current or similar level of position for a minimum of three years.
- If a partner, must have been a partner for at least three years with a minimum of one-year experience leading a practice group or serving on an executive committee.
- Have not previously been honored as part of the Women Who Mean Business program.

Pro-Tip: This is the biggest pool of applicants that KCBJ gets for any award. Be sure you qualify! Put your best foot forward, don’t be too humble, emphasize how you help other women as well as how you give back to business community. Be sure someone else proof reads your applications, it is formatted well, and you follow all instructions. You do not need to include a reference letter.
Application Deadline: July 7, 2017

Celebrates the companies judged by their employees as Best Places to Work. The publication gives insight on what makes these companies great from their employees’ perspectives. It also offers insight about attracting and retaining qualified employees.

Nominations will be accepted in June - July 2017. An event honoring the award winners will be held in October 2017.

- Any company in the Kansas City metropolitan area (Ray, Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri, and Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties in Kansas) with at least 10 full-time and part-time, permanent employees who have been employed with the company at least 30 days, and work within the contest area.

Surveys will be administered and results tabulated by Quantum Workplace, a specialist in measuring workplace satisfaction. Only the finalists in each category will be published. All other participating companies will be guaranteed anonymity with regards to results and participation. For nominations done by individuals, Quantum will coordinate survey start date with each business, survey is taken by a certain percentage of employees, Quantum uses proprietary algorithm to tabulate results.

There are 10 finalists in each category and there are 3 categories (small/10-49 employees in KC market, medium/50-249 emps in KC market, large/250+ in KC market). All honorees are contacted prior to event and the top 3 in each category are announced at event. 

Pro-Tip: Your employees must think you are great because they are the ones judging you! Quantum has an FAQ on their website.
iStart is the go-to site for entering business competitions from around the world, browsing pages of startup ideas and networking with hundreds of innovative, energized entrepreneurs. 

Find out about business competitions all over the world.

With the financial support of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Downtown Shareholders is pleased to announce the launch of the third round of Pop-Up! Downtown KCK, a retail development initiative to enliven Downtown Kansas City, Kansas. Pop-Up! Downtown KCK matches select entrepreneurs with high-visibility, well-sited spaces at free or reduced rent, and provides an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to test a retail concept or determine whether Downtown KCK is a viable long-term location for their business.

To learn more about this program or to download a funding application, check out our website.
Application Deadline: Ongoing!

DTSKCK promotes economic development, housing, wellness, cultural, and social opportunities in downtown Kansas City, KS. Their Small Business Grant Program provides the small business owner or entrepreneur the possibility of partial “gap filling”, which their research indicates is greatly needed. One qualification: you are in, or plan to locate in, our service area: 4th to 18th; Washington to Sandusky.

Questions are encouraged! Please contact DTSKCK at (913) 371-0705 or for more information, or visit their website.
Are you interested in expanding your export activities, but are concerned about cost, or fearful about entering a new market? Both Missouri and Kansas have your back.

MO STEP=UP: Financial Assistance Opportunities for Expanded Export Activity

The MO STEP=UP program, an initiative of the Missouri International Trade and Investment Office funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, is a grant program offering international marketing and financial assistance, designed with small business owners like you in mind. By taking part in MO STEP=UP, your company could embark on the following activities focused on growing your exports (like trade missions, Gold Key Services, marketing strategy enhancements, and access to sector-specific trade shows w/reimbursement for qualifying expenses) to the Middle East, Central and South America: Learn more here or contact the Export Experts.

KS STEP Grant Applications
The Kansas Department of Commerce is currently accepting STEP grant applications from small businesses to assist them in starting or growing their exports. The Commerce programs, which are being funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), will help non-exporters begin exporting for the first time or existing exporters expand their export levels. Commerce is administering the grant in tandem with the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Programs offered through the STEP Grant include export seminars and training courses, opportunities for participation in foreign trade shows and missions, and support for entering new markets. For the current grant year, SBA has awarded Kansas $383,000 in STEP funding. Businesses that wish to apply for support or are interested in learning more should visit

(Taken from releases by the Missouri Department of Economic Development & the Kansas Department of Agriculture)

Digital Sandbox KC brings together people, ideas and resources to build thriving companies. The program provides much needed early-stage funding to rising stars. The region's longtime leaders including private companies, government agencies and universities have united to help this new wave of entrepreneurs. It's an unprecedented metro-wide effort to help make KC America's most entrepreneurial city.


55 proof-of-concept projects funded for area startups
27 new KC-based companies created
39 companies have secured follow-on investment
$22.7M in follow-on funding
247 new jobs created, nearly $7.3M in total salaries
Digital Sandbox KC broadly seeks new innovation in information technology.  The Sandbox provides innovators with proof-of-concept resources to support early-stage commercialization processes. The Sandbox may cover expenses for project consultants, market research, legal support, equipment and other market validation, prototyping and beta testing needs.

The Digital Sandbox process requires:
  1. - Completion of the Digital Sandbox Company Profile
  2. - A meeting/pitch evaluation
  3. - A board vote
To proceed with funding requests, you'll need to download the Digital Sandbox Company Profile Word document, fill in the requested information and return it by email The final summary can be no longer than three pages. 

Please keep in mind that this summary will be viewed by those evaluating your submission; those participating in your meeting/pitch and by the board for voting purposes. Once we've received your company profile, we'll review it for completeness and then send you information regarding next steps. Submission Tip:  Thoroughly reading our Frequently Asked Questions prior to submission may improve your outcome.

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    You're a member of the start-up group. Brand new to the entrepreneurial world, your ideas and energy will take you far. Welcome to the family.

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    You're a member of the microenterprise group. Your small business is not only your dream job, but also gives you the flexibility to do things on your time.

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    You're a member of the main street group. Your entrepreneurial spirit brings people together, providing your customers with a more personalized service.

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    You're a member of the second stage group. Faster than a speeding bullet, your business is taking off. We have the resources to help your growth and expansion.

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