Start Your Own Business

Emporia Main Street has several resources available to Entrepreneurs to start, expand, or enhance your business! Through a variety of educational opportunities, loan programs, historic tax credits, and tax rebates the staff at Emporia Main Street is ready to help you and your business set up for success!

Educational Opportunities

This years Start Your Own Business Class will begin on Monday, October 7th at Flint Hills Technical College.  This collaboration between Flint Hills Technical College, the Small Business Development Center at Emporia State University, and Emporia Main Street has helped start or expand over 75 businesses in the region.  Success in entrepreneurial development programs is measured by actual entrepreneurial development, and no single initiative within the region has reported the impact of SYOB.

This years class will consist of Monday/Thursday classes from October 7 through December 12th.  Classes (unless otherwise specified) will take place on Flint Hills Technical College main campus from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  Each class will contain basic subject matter presented from one of the three presenters (Rob Gilligan, Lisa Brumbaugh of the Small Business Development Center, and/or Casey Woods of Emporia Main Street), followed by a presentation from local practitioners in the category of discussion for each class.  Classes can be taken for “credit” from Flint Hills Technical College, or as a training course without class credit.  The training course option allows students to register for the class for just $100, due to the continued financial support of ESB Financial.  Those taking the class for credit hours through Flint Hills Technical College can register for $100, but additional fees may apply.  Due to the individualized attention required in the Start Your Own Business course the class can hold a maximum of sixteen people.


Class One October 7, 2019: Deciding on a Business & Business Plans- Students will receive an overview of the business selection process and hear from current business owners. Students will learn the basics of the business plan format, steps to make your business plan better and an overview of the necessary factors for developing a business plan.
Class Two October 10, 2019:  Understanding the Regional Market & Market Research –Successful entrepreneurs need to know the ins and outs of their target market. In this session students will learn how to analyze market information and help develop an understanding of what their business opportunities are.
Class Three October 14, 2019  Staying Legal: The role of an Attorney & Accountant on your TEAM – How should you organize your new business – sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited partnership, corporation, “s” corporation, or limited liability company? How does that impact your tax liability? Your Attorney and Accountant are two of the key members of your “Team” and their information is part of the foundation of establishing a successful start-up.
Class Four October 17, 2019 Everybody Loves a Field Trip! – This class will go on tours of several businesses in our community. To start, we will meet at Kari’s Bridal, then go over to ValuNet and Ken’s Sharpening, then to downtown Emporia where we will visit Chi Em Eats and Mulready’s.
Class Five October 21, 2019  Where should you locate, Where can you locate, how do you protect your investment? – Location, Location, Location can be an important part of building a successful business. This class will focus on how to find a location that is appropriate, what rules and regulations you need to know and then how to protect that investment with a key team member, your Insurance Agent.
Class Six October 24, 2019  Cash Flow Projections and How to Finance Your Business (This session is held at ESU, Cremer Hall, 2nd Floor) – Information on cash flow projections and learning how to locate, negotiate and maintain sources of money to get you started and help you expand your business. Topics include identifying how much you need, loans versus investments, funding sources and what to do after you receive your financing.
Class Seven October 28, 2019  E-Commerce, Social Networking & E Marketing & Marketing for Small Businesses: – E-Commerce is the fastest growing segment of our economy. It allows even the smallest business to reach a global audience with proper products and message at a minimum cost. This class will focus on the core basics of how and why to set up an e-commerce website & understand how businesses can use social networking sites to their advantage. Marketing – it is important to maximize your marketing results and avoid the most common mistakes made in opening a business. Learn what to do “before you start”. Identify key things to accomplish with your marketing.
Class Eight November 4, 2019  Employer/Employee Relations & Daily Operations/Business Practices – Most employers agree the toughest part of being an employer is finding and keeping good employees. Understand the importance of consistent business practices to your daily operation and the result to your bottom line. A growing business needs to have appropriate expansion policies in place to motivate key employees and know-how in handling common business problems. Get tips and advice on motivating key employees, profits centers and common business problems.
Class Nine November 7, 2019 Time to Make your Pitch – Now is your opportunity to take Five minutes and share your business plan with the class. Your goal is to apply all of the topics discussed that are important to your successful launch and share with us your vision.
Class Ten December 12, 2019 Wrap up & Community Resource Reception hosted by Emporia Main Street: – Learn how to integrate your business and your plan with local resources, including Emporia Main Street, Flint Hills Technical College, Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, City of Emporia, Regional Development Association, Media – The Emporia Gazette, KVOE, KISS, The Wave, The Shopper, Emporia State University – June Coleman-Hull “Hire a Hornet”. Main Street to provide business information packet – BEC , bank information, incentives, Network Kansas information and more.

If you want to start your own business in the future, the SYOB course is the first solid step towards making your dream a reality.  If you are an existing business looking to expand your operations or improve your existing entity, the Start Your Own Business course is a helpful tool.  If you know someone that is a natural entrepreneur (they can spot opportunities, mitigate threats, understand profitability, have a strong work ethic, are innovative, have a support system), forwarding this information might be the incentive needed to get started.  If you are an existing business and have a rock star employee, the Start Your Own Business class may ingrain the skills necessary for your staff to aid in future expansion efforts.

To sign up for the Start Your Own Business Class click HERE or forward this information to a budding entrepreneur that needs to take a tangible step towards starting their own business.

Business Incubator Program

What is Incubation? The process of incubation typically provides tangible resources to entrepreneurs in startup or growth phases of their operation. Emporia Main Street offers the following business incubation assistance:

1. Offering mixed space at free or reduced rent at 729 Commercial Street.- Cash is always short at the beginning of a entrepreneurial venture. When a lot of capital is going out the door without inflows to refill coffers, businesses can fold pretty quickly. Some business types take a while to generate a positive cash flow, and without a professional space they can operate from at an affordable rent rate, ventures can fail before they really get started.  Emporia Main Street’s incubator space offers the first six months rent free, the second six months are $400 in rent per month, and the third (final) six months are $800 per month.  Tenants are responsible for their own utilities, and a portion of the property taxes for the rented area.  ValuNet Fiber will donate high speed internet and phone access for tenants (renters will receive a monthly bill showcasing the value of the donation).  The maximum incubation duration is eighteen (18) months.  The lease can be broken early without penalty.  The 729 Commercial Street address is on a high traffic corner, with both corner and ADA central access points to maximize foot traffic and visibility.

2. Providing access to support for business development purposes- Incubated businesses are required to report progress to Emporia Main Street to better prepare for a permanent placement.  Local Emporia Main Street member service businesses have offered services at free or reduced costs to help start businesses on a solid foundation.

3. Engaging entrepreneurial specific education that is outcome based- Through Emporia Main Street’s affiliation with groups like Network Kansas, the Small Business Development Center, Kansas Works, and local educational institutions, Emporia Main Street can assist incubated businesses with targeted training to enhance business viability.

4. Generating capital resources for startup growth- Emporia Main Street works with a variety of alternative funding sources to help entrepreneurs start and expand their business concepts.  Throughout the incubation process, Emporia Main Street will assist the incubated business in identifying financial assistance that results in growth and permanent placement.

Interested in setting up Shop? Click here for the Business Incubator Application

Please return your application to 727 Commercial Street or via email to

Loan and Grant Programs

Community Development Block Grants- CDBG funds are applied for through city governments and can be used for revitalization efforts, and in some cases a loan pool.

E-Community- Another potential loan pool, E-Community mimics local funds (like IWW or Trusler) loaned out to businesses in a community defined area (like a city or county).  Funds for the loan pool are raised through the sale of tax credits which form an account for a specific entity.  E-Community funds do require a funding match.

Kansas Main Street Incentives Without Walls – Administered through the local Emporia Main Street ProgramZero interest loan is a 3:1 matching loan up to $20,000 within a defined district. Emporia Main Street fills out the IWW application for businesses, but there are some pieces of information required from applicants. Contact the Emporia Main Street office for details.

Network Kansas Loan Program-As a network Kansas Partner, Emporia Main Street can apply for funds that match the terms of other local loan funds (like IWW or Trusler) in a 60/40 split.

Trusler Loan Program– A privately funded zero interest loan pool donated by the Trusler Foundation and administered through Emporia Main Street.  This loan pool can be used on any commercial property in Emporia, but it’s policies mimic Incentives Without Walls funds. Contact the Emporia Main Street office for details.

USDA REAP- Projects below $200,000 

Historic Tax Credits and Tax Rebates

Emporia Neighborhood Revitalization Program – This program offers a property tax rebate on properties in certain areas that receive revitalization investments. Contact the Emporia Main Street office for details.

Federal Historic Tax Credits- These 20% federal tax credits are similar to the state Historic Tax Credits, but are used less frequently and on larger projects.  The National Historic Tax Credits are non-transferable and do require that buildings are either on the national register or are a contributor within a historic district.

Kansas Historic Tax Credits- We are hoping to pursue a historic district that would allow for the expanded use of this 25% (for profit) or 30% (not for profit) state tax credit.  These tax credits can be used on qualified expenditures in historic buildings or buildings deemed as “contributors” within historic districts.  These tax credits can even be used to revitalize current non-contributing buildings to make them a “contributor” to the aesthetic of a district.  Things like plumbing, electrical, air conditioning and other mechanical issues are typically covered under this program.  Historic Tax Credits are popular enough that a series of developers specialize in their use.  We have had inquiries from developers about a historic district in Emporia, but obviously we haven’t been able to capitalize on their interest due to the lack of a district.  State Historic Tax Credits are transferable (meaning you can sell the credits for cash).

New Market Tax Credits- Common on the coasts and larger urban areas, the New Market Tax Credits are just now being used in Kansas.  This 35% tax credit can be used in census tracts deemed “distressed” or “severely distressed”, which is virtually everywhere with the exception of properties west of Industrial Road.

USDA Low interest loans- Emporia resides within the USDA Section 3 in Kansas, and the district office made Emporia Main Street aware of a low interest loan program for businesses within our city.  USDA low interest loans are a grant to a local utility that is then loaned out to businesses at a low interest rate (usually around 4%). The USDA also has loans available for low income homes in rural areas.