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.
A diverse cross-section of Kansas City small business owners filled the Grand Hall at Union Station with energy and enthusiasm Thursday, Vicky Kulikov said, noting a significant number of the entrepreneurs were showcasing their ventures publicly for the first time.
“Many of these businesses were started during the pandemic so they have not had many, if any, opportunities to share their businesses with the community,” said Kulikov, small business director for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and lead coordinator of the Small Business Superstars program.
Check out a photo gallery from the event at the bottom of this story.
About half of the companies on display Thursday at the Chamber’s Small Business Candidates’ Showcase — a precursor to this summer’s Small Business Celebration and awards season — were new members of the Superstars program.
Click here to learn more about the Small Business Superstars effort and how it’s creating a culture of belonging within the Chamber’s ranks.
The event featured a range of companies and entrepreneurs — from Kansas City Startups to Watch like Kenzen, Homebase, Diversity TeleHealth and Ronawk to such emerging ventures as Brown Suga Bakes and runner! cocktails. Established brands like Chicken N Pickle, KD Academy and SnapIT Solutions helped round out the room.
Judges mingled with business owners at the showcase, exploring their knowledge and watching their interactions with members of the public, organizers said. Those observations will be used to help determine the Top 10 finalists for the Chamber’s Small Business of the Year “Mr. K Award.”
Finalists are expected to be announced throughout the day Friday, April 29 on social media.
The Mr. K Award winner is set to be unveiled at the June 15 Small Business Awards Luncheon, alongside other honors like the emerging business and equity awards.
“Attendees at Thursday’s showcase also provided feedback that it was great to see such a diverse group of businesses and business owners,” Kulikov noted.
Of the 55 booths at the Union Station event, 37 percent were minority owned; 74 percent women owned; and 33 percent minority women owned, she said.
Nonprofit partners like Startland News and KC BizCare also were featured.
The 2022 showcase also marked the return to an in-person gathering for the event, after two years of virtual programming.
Up next: The Honeywell Fan Favorite award is set to be announced at 3:30 pm Monday, April 25 on the Chamber’s Facebook page. Voting for the honor — voters may select two of the 57 companies to support — will be open until noon Monday.
Click here to vote for the Honeywell Fan Favorite.
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.