Fort Hays State to be new host of NetWork Kansas' Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge

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HAYS, Kan. -- NetWork Kansas will have a new host next spring for its fourth Kansas' Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge -- Fort Hays State University.

The statewide competition will be Monday, April 24, 2017, in FHSU's Memorial Union.

"We are thrilled to have found a partner in FHSU to host next year's state championship," said Anne Dewvall, E-Community Partnership manager for NetWork Kansas. "Fort Hays State is as dedicated to encouraging young entrepreneurs as we are."

The competition gives Kansas high school students experience in the process of making a business proposal -- students must research, write and submit an executive summary. If their business concept is chosen as a finalist, they will then have the opportunity to pitch their venture to a panel of judges that consists of local entrepreneurs, bankers, and investment experts.

Winners of the local challenges, sponsored by NetWork Kansas-designated E-Communities, will then compete in the statewide challenge at FHSU, an event that, in addition to the competition, will feature tradeshow displays, presentations and lunch for the participants.

"FHSU is excited to host the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in April 2017," said Henry Schwaller, director of the FHSU Center for Entrepreneurship. "It is an honor to partner with NetWork Kansas on this prestigious program and welcome these creative and innovative young entrepreneurs to the FHSU campus."

"The innovation and creativity of the students' ideas is incredible, and it shows that programs like the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge ensure that Kansas will have a very bright future," said Schwaller.

Dewvall said participation grew from four Kansas communities to 22 in the first three years. The third competition, held last spring, had 242 high school and middle school students representing 151 businesses in the local competitions.

"This year we expect even more communities to participate," she said.

"We're honored to have so many bright young minds on our campus and share our entrepreneurial Tiger spirit with them. Our goal is to make sure that every student has a wonderful experience and has an opportunity to learn more about our Entrepreneurship program," said Schwaller. "We have a wide array of activities -- from our state-of-the-art courses to Dane G. Hansen Scholarship Hall, the nation's first residence hall for creative, innovative students -- and we hope that every student has a chance to experience all we offer."

"I am very proud that Fort Hays State has been chosen to be the host of the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge," said university President Mirta M. Martin. "Young entrepreneurs are critical to the future of western Kansas, our state and our nation, and Fort Hays State has become the destination of choice for all those bright minds who wish to translate dreams into businesses."

She continued, "As I said when we dedicated at Homecoming the first-in-the-nation entrepreneurship residence hall, our faculty, our staff, our community are fully devoted to ensuring that students with an entrepreneurial drive turn their ideas into successful companies.

"The high school competitors of the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge are coming to the right place. We are excited that they are joining a community where the entrepreneurial spirit is ingrained in our history, in our DNA. We're glad they are coming to Fort Hays State! Welcome home."

NetWork Kansas, ( is a non-profit organization established by the Kansas Economic Growth Act of 2004 as the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship. Its primary focus is encouraging and promoting entrepreneurship in Kansas. Its sponsors are the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Kansas Small Business Development Center.

NetWork Kansas designates certain communities as E-Communities and works with them "to create local, sustainable funding programs as well as creating a virtual network of expertise and educational resources for entrepreneurs at the local level," according to its website. The program has grown from six communities in 2007 to 55 today.

To date, E-Community partnerships have resulted in more than $7.7 million in loans to more than 285 businesses and $35.5 million and more in additional capital from other sources.

For more information, contact Anne Dewvall (email:; phone: 316-425-7059), visit the website,, or call NetWork Kansas at 877-521-8600.

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