Business plan competition scheduled for March



Opportunities to earn start-up money and hone business skills are coming to Salina in early March.

The first Charlie Walker Entrepreneurial Challenge is open to residents of Saline, Ellsworth, McPherson, Dickinson and Ottawa counties.

Free entry.

The deadline to apply is Friday, March 4 at 11:59 p.m. Interested individuals or teams can complete the application process electronically at includes a business plan and a two to three minute elevator pitch video, promoting your business plan concept.

“We are thrilled to co-sponsor this week of entrepreneurial programs, culminating in the Charlie Walker Entrepreneurial Challenge,” said Mitch Robinson, executive director of the Salina Community Economic Development Organization, 120 W. Ash.

Organizers strongly encourage applicants to attend the free Project Open training from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 15 and Wednesday, February 16 in room 118 of the Technology Center at Kansas State University Aerospace and Technology Campus, 2310 Centennial Road .

The sessions are designed to help applicants develop their business plan. If you cannot attend, a video link will be available. Register on

Activities kick off the week of March 7 with four local events, culminating in a live pitch contest at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 11 at the Temple – Salina Innovation Foundation – at 336 S. Santa Fe downtown of Salina. The rally is open to the public.

Contestants will compete for cash prizes of $8,000, $5,000 and $3,000 – provided by area sponsors – to be used for related business start-up expenses.

“If you don’t submit a plan (by 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 4), you may not be considered for awards,” Robinson said.

Before the final, four programs will be aimed at entrepreneurs wishing to start their own business:

• 6:00 pm Monday March 7, Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus (room 118 of the Technology Center): “The 3 Ms – Money, Marketing and Management”.

• From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, students from Salina Central and Salina South High Schools will participate in the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge at Salina Area Technical College, 2562 Centennial Road in the Airport Industrial Center.

The winning individual or team will win $500, $350 for the second and $200 for the third.

• 6:00 pm Wednesday, March 9, Temple Dining Room, 336 S. Santa Fe: “Women in Business,” highlighting several women who have started their own businesses in the Salina community.

• Thursday, March 10 at 6 pm, “Social Media Marketing” seminar at the Visit Salina Annex, 120 W. Ash, just north of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce.

The final activity, at 6 p.m. on March 11 in The Temple dining room, will include the business plan competition, with the five-minute presentation of each finalist in front of a judging panel. Each finalist will then have five minutes to answer questions from the judges, regarding their presentations and the original entry.

The entrepreneurial challenge is named for iconic Salina businessman Charlie Walker, who founded a number of businesses, including the largest, Salina-based Blue Beacon International (known for its washes trucks and RVs), and the Rolling Hills Zoo near Hedville.

Walker passed away in 2012, but his family continued their commitment by leading a number of civic causes in the Salina community.

“This competition is a way to help people realize their dreams,” said Mary Landes, executive director of The Temple-based Salina Innovation Foundation.

Coworking spaces are available to rent at below market price, she said, for people wanting to start their own businesses.

“That’s what Charlie did. He took an idea and built it,” she said. “A lot of people have dreams, and this is one way to help them make those dreams come true.”

The competition is sponsored by Startup Salina, Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, Salina Community Economic Development Organization, The Co-Working Space at The Temple, Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus, Kansas Wesleyan University and NetworkKansas.

To learn more, call (785) 404-3131 or visit

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The members of Startup Salina, a group of entrepreneurs, and those who aspire to be, meet at 5:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month in the co-working space of the Temple. For more information, call (785) 404-3131.


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