Editor’s note: The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is a non-financial partner of Startland News, which serves as the media partner for the Small Business Superstars program.
The Small Business Superstar program did more than convert Jannae Gammage into a new Chamber member, she said; it exposed her to the power of opening doors and offering platforms to a wider array of Kansas City small businesses and startups.
Now she’s a vocal advocate.
“Being named a Small Business Superstar was the catapult I didn’t know we needed,” said Gammage, co-founder of The Market Base. “Imagine being exhausted jogging to your goal and being picked up by a train. It truly changed the trajectory of our business.”
Entering its second year, the program is accepting applications and nominations for another round of Superstars, which can be any small business in the Kansas City metro with fewer than 250 employees. While it’s a program of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, applicants do not need to be Chamber members.
Click here to apply or nominate a company for the Small Business Superstars program. Submissions are open through Feb. 7. (Applicants and participants in the 2021 program do not need to re-apply for eligibility.)
Debuting in 2021, the Superstars effort was created to recognize and celebrate as many entrepreneurs and small businesses as possible, said Vicky Kulikov, small business director for the Chamber and a key organizer of the program.
Gammage and The Market Base — one of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2021 — were early additions to the Superstars roster, and through their involvement in the program were eligible to be honored at the Chamber’s annual Small Business Celebration. The Market Base earned nominations for both the celebration’s equity and emerging business honors — ultimately being named Kansas City’s Emerging Business of the year in June.
About 1,200 small businesses like The Market Base were recognized through the 2021 Superstars program, Kulikov said, and organizers set a goal to hit 1,500 by this year’s February deadline.
Small Business Superstars will receive physical and digital swag that they can use to show off their small business strength and pride, she added. They will also be invited to attend the March 9 in-person Small Business Superstars reception and their stories are expected to be shared throughout the 2022 Small Business Celebration, which is set to return with a luncheon June 15 at the Downtown Marriott.
A Small Business Celebration showcase is set for April 21 at Union Station.
Superstars additionally receive discounted rates for becoming full Chamber members.
But the program is about much more than adding names to a membership directory or earning swag, organizers emphasized.
“We think it’s important to celebrate all small business, especially in these tough times,” said Daniel Smith, co-founder of The Porter House KC and an early Superstars supporter who helped shape the program’s development. “We need to applaud the efforts of those who have the ability to keep their doors open and thrive in the midst of probably the hardest time they have had as an owner.”
“The Chamber has stepped up to help celebrate these businesses, and we are thankful for the highlights as it can be used as motivation to keep pushing,” he added. “We think it accomplished what it was intended for. We saw a number of our program graduates highlighted, and we couldn’t be more proud of them and their accomplishments.”
View this post on Instagram
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.