Startland News’ Startup Road Trip series explores innovative and uncommon ideas finding success in rural America and Midwestern startup hubs outside the Kansas City metro. This series is possible thanks to Go Topeka, which seeks economic success for all companies and citizens across Shawnee County through implementation of an aggressive economic development strategy that capitalizes on the unique strengths of the community.
TOPEKA — After building its foundation by empowering underserved communities in Kansas’ capital city, Omni Circle Group finally has a home, Michael Odupitan said.
The Topeka-based collaborative workspace and entrepreneurial training provider celebrated the grand opening of its 15,000-square-foot physical space Monday, leaning on an established brand that now has spanned a pandemic and come out stronger.
“In the last three years, we’ve been building our organization through our core pillars (connect, collaborate, and create), but the final thing that we needed to do was create an environment,” Odupitan, founder and CEO of Omni Circle Group, shared in an introductory video shown at the celebration. “We’ve been blessed to have an opportunity to build our collaborative workspace. And our goal in our collaborative workspace is to create an environment that is supportive, welcoming, and inclusive to all individuals as they build their desired dreams and have the space to become or build their personal freedom.”
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About 100 community members gathered in the renovated space at 1301 Southwest Topeka Boulevard for tours and a ribbon cutting ceremony alongside the Greater Topeka Partnership, GO Topeka, and Mayor Mike Padilla.
“I said earlier in an interview that my job as mayor is to promote this city, but promoting the city means promoting the people who live in the city and what they do for us as a community,” Padilla said. “It’s so gratifying to see someone like Michael — who might be a boomerang; he was here; he left; he came back with a mission and that mission was clear for him. He made it clear for others and he invited others to join him in what he was trying to accomplish.”
Odupitan — who got emotional while detailing the journey — noted that Omni Circle wants to help people get the opportunities they deserve, especially those in underrepresented and underserved communities.
“I feel like there’s a huge opportunity for people here when we work together,” he continued. “I want to open doors for kids that look like me. I also don’t want people to feel like they have to live in silos. You don’t have to live on the other side of the track. We can all work together.”
Omni Circle Group currently operates as two entities — a nonprofit, community building organization and a for-profit coworking space.
Moving people from survival to creation is the goal, Odupitan shared.
“What we try to do in our organization is meet the basic needs of people, and as they grow, we want to then give them an opportunity to build community,” he explained. “Through that community, we provide educational opportunities for them to become the best version of themselves. And when they become the best version of themselves, hopefully they find a purpose to live.”
The Greater Topeka Partnership and GO Topeka helped Omni Circle secure a $360,000 Heartland Challenge RFP grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which helped the organization build its collaborative workspace.
“I’m heartened by how much Omni Circle Group’s mission actually overlaps and ties to what we do at the Greater Topeka Partnership,” CEO Matt Pivarnik said. “It’s so perfectly aligned with our community strategy in Momentum 2027. The Momentum 2027 strategy actually has equity at the center.”
Pivarnik also loves that Odupitan and the other leaders of Omni Circle have a bias toward action, which is an important characteristic to him, he shared.
“The people that work with me, they hear me all the time saying let’s not sit around and talk about stuff,” Pivarnik explained. “Let’s do it. Nothing drives me more crazy than when somebody doesn’t have a bias to action.”
This series is possible thanks to Go Topeka.
Go Topeka seeks economic success for all companies and citizens across Shawnee County through implementation of an aggressive economic development strategy that capitalizes on the unique strengths of the community.