The Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is on the hunt for the best small business in the region—also known as the “Mr. K” Small Business of the Year. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Small Business Celebration in which the “Mr. K” Award is included in. This celebration identifies the region’s best companies today and highlights the history of success for our small business award winners over the years. But how does the KC Chamber decide who the “Mr. K” Award goes to? What does it mean to be “Mr. K”? And most importantly, how can your small business get nominated?
In order to answer these questions, I had the opportunity to correspond with Brande Stitt, Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship for the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce to get her input on the importance of the “Mr. K” Award during the Small Business Celebration.
What are the qualifications to be nominated for the “Mr. K” Small Business of the Year award?
There are four main qualifications in order to be nominated for the award. The small business must employ fewer than 250 employees, must have been in business for more than three years, must have majority ownership in the Kansas City area, and must exemplify the business principles of the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman.
How does the Chamber decide who wins the “Mr. K” Small Business of the Year award?
We expect to receive over 1,000 nominations this year and those companies will have the opportunity to submit an application for our Small Business of the Year Award. We select the winner based on business growth or sustainability, how they treat their employees and a commitment to community service. Our judges try to follow the basic tenets that Ewing Marion Kauffman espoused for successful business development.
Who won the award last year?
With over 1,100 businesses nominated last year, defining one winner was tough. In the end, the “Mr. K” Small Business of the Year award went to the Athletic & Rehabilitation Center.
A word from Matt Condon, CEO of the Athletic & Rehabilitation Center:
“The Mr. K Small Business of the Year award is an experience that I, and ARC, will never forget. We have been overwhelmed by the congratulatory wishes that we continue to receive on a weekly basis, and elated by the exposure the award has given us as a company. What makes this award so special is that it is as much a recognition of how you have done things as it is about what you have accomplished. To be nominated, and to win, represents both a challenge to remain committed to Mr. K’s ideals of intelligence, integrity, and team work, and a profound honor that we will continue to celebrate for years to come.”
How do I nominate a business?
Hurry! The nomination deadline is December 1st, which gives you only a few more days to nominate your favorite small business for the award. The nomination form can be found on the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s website. All nominees will receive a note from The Chamber informing them of the nomination and inviting them to submit a formal application.
What else can we expect from the Kansas City Chamber during the Small Business Celebration and how can it help entrepreneurship in Kansas City?
We’re most excited to be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Small Business Celebration. What started as an awards luncheon event in 1986 is now three months of events with over 3,000 participants each year. Our hope for the 25th Anniversary is to highlight the strength of small business and entrepreneurs in our community and look at their contributions to Kansas City’s growth over the last 25 years.
For more information, contact Brande Stitt, director of small business and entrepreneurship at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to nominate your favorite small business by December 1st and help us to reward the hard-working small businesses of Kansas City and its surrounding areas! Thanks for Thinking Big!
Written by Allison Way. Allison is a writer and videographer for Think Big Partners and bizperc, two of Kansas City's newest entrepreneurial resources. To read more of Allison's work, check out the Kansas City Entrepreneurship Examiner.