From:  Stacie Schmidt

Ellsworth KS – Ellsworth County Economic Development, in association with the Network Kansas E-Community Partnership, and in coordination with USD 327, hosted our first-ever Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge on February 21, 2022 at the Ellsworth Junior Senior High School. Thirteen individuals and ten teams presented their business concepts with a written business plan, a 2-minute “elevator pitch”, a 4-6 minute presentation, and an exhibit to judges for a chance to win cash prizes.
The winning concepts were:
1st Prize ($1500): Thaddeus, Cruz, and Owen Donley with Donley Brothers Mowing
2nd Prize ($1250): Chase Bourbon with Imagination HomeCare, LLC
3rd Prize: ($1000): Layton Leiker with Leiker Lures
Best Trade Show: Hannah Andringa with Board Meats & Sweets
Best Marketing: Jodi Donley with Jodi’s Sweet Treats
Ready to Launch: Noah Goss with Clear Creek Boutique
Best Ag Business (sponsored by Ellsworth County Kansas Farm Bureau): Hannah Andringa
Students received prize money totaling $4100 courtesy of Network Kansas, Ellsworth County Kansas Farm Bureau, NexGen Round Up For Youth, and Ellsworth County Economic Development.
“The purpose of this competition is to expose students to entrepreneurship, and build their capacity for business skills, including financing, management, prototype, as well as building relationships and community partnerships. The students that competed were nothing short of amazing, and they should be very proud of the hard work and effort they dedicated to this competition,” said Stacie Schmidt, event coordinator and Executive Director of Ellsworth County Economic Development.
In addition to prizes and recognition, the first-place finisher has the opportunity to compete in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge at Kansas State University in Manhattan. This event will include the top young entrepreneurs from across the state.
The students’ performances were judged by local entrepreneurs and public sector partners. Students were provided mentors for support throughout the process. This is the first time Ellsworth County has brought this competition to their community. This is anticipated to be an annual opportunity for students.
“This event was nothing short of spectacular! The first time Ellsworth County hosted an event and they exceeded all expectations. Everyone should be very proud of how today went!” said Sarah LaRosh, Director of E-Community Engagement for Network Kansas.

For more information, contact Stacie Schmidt at 785-472-9204 or For more information about NetWork Kansas or the E-Community Partnership, visit Ellsworth County Economic Development became an E-Community in 2019 through a competitive bid process.