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K-State Today

July 22, 2020

K-State's Rural Grocery Initiative receives Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Heartland Challenge Grant

Submitted by David Procter

K-State's Rural Grocery Store Initiative has received an $88,225 Heartland Challenge Grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. 

"This grant will help us address rural business transfer opportunities by providing education on models of shared business ownership, including business cooperatives," said David Procter, professor of communication studies.

Independently owned grocery stores are anchor businesses in rural communities. These businesses are an important source of healthful food, providing residents with fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and meats. They are an important piece of the economic engine driving rural regions through jobs created, taxes paid and their economic multiplier effect. They are also an important social and civic anchor, serving as a recruiting asset and a site for social capital. Yet, many of these small businesses struggle to remain open and are closing due to owner retirements, shrinking markets, and a lack of investment capital.

Staff with K-State’s Rural Grocery Initiative provide education on alternative ownership models as they relate to succession planning for grocery stores. Collaborating with existing succession planning resource providers, RGI staff will integrate emerging models of grocery ownership into a curriculum for business development specialists. Additionally, staff will convene regional workshops for grocery store owners, community leaders, and economic development representatives in rural communities. Finally, RGI staff will provide additional resources, such as mentoring, to grocery store owners and communities who are at the stage of transitioning their grocery store ownership.

"Entrepreneurship represents an opportunity for this region to reverse a decades-long trend of economic decline," said Melissa Roberts Chapman, senior program officer in entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation. "Creating more equitable ecosystems, revitalizing rural communities and accelerating IP-driven business creation will help the region work together to meet the challenges ahead of us." 

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to increase opportunities that allow all people to learn, to take risks, and to own their success. The Kauffman Foundation is based in Kansas City, Missouri, and uses its $2 billion in assets to collaboratively help people be self-sufficient, productive citizens.

For more information, contact David Procter at dprocter@k-state.edu or visit ruralgrocery.org; kauffman.org.