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Success Stories

Prairie Horizons Studio for the Creative Arts

After almost 20 years of preparation, the time was right for Tana and Tommy Davis to act on their dream of opening a small business that serves as an art studio and creative space for children and adults in Chapman, Kansas. Prairie Horizons Studio for the Creative Arts offers creative arts classes and workshops. The space also serves as a gallery where Tana and other artists can exhibit and sell their works, and provide an event space where people can host private parties.

Managing a successful small business takes good planning, passion and resources. Tana and Tommy Davis knew the time was right when Tommy, First Sergeant (1SG), retired from 21 years of service in the Army in the fall of 2016.

As part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for service members, Tommy participated in the Boots To Business program at Fort Riley in September 2016. Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the U.S. Small... Read More

Allison Grice (left), Owner of Cowgirl Creations, LLC

Allison Grice has always enjoyed photography and being creative. While many people have similar hobbies, Allison has made a successful small business doing what she loves in her hometown of St. Francis, Kansas.

Allison’s passion for photography started when she was young. In school, she photographed her activities in 4-H and contributed photos in her high school yearbook. She pursued her interest in graphic design after high school and studied at Northwest Kansas Technical College, where she graduated with an Associate's degree in Computer Graphic Design.

Allison Grice is the owner of Cowgirl Creations and Design in St. Francis, Kansas. A one-stop shop where customers can find gift ideas, locally made products, and professional photography and graphic art services. Allison liked the small town atmosphere of St. Francis, and knew she wanted to return to her home town after college and start a venture of her own.

After inquiring with the Cheyenne Center for... Read More

Invena Corporation - Matt Wilson

Hidden in a small town in the Flint Hills of Kansas, Invena Corporation has kept a low-profile for nearly 20 years. Known as a “skunkworks” prototype development firm, Invena’s customers like the remote location and rural work ethic, far away from the prying eyes of competitors. It’s here, in Eureka, Kansas (population 2,633) that we find the 2017 SBA Kansas Exporter of the Year.

The family business was rooted in family and community. Eureka native Matt Wilson and his mother Carma quit their corporate jobs to care for the cancer-stricken patriarch of the family, Glen Wilson. With Matt’s engineering background and Carma’s accounting skills, they established Invena (a play on the word Inventors) in the guest bedroom to enable Carma to work from their home while Matt traveled as a design consultant. In time, Glen recovered, and the family focused their efforts on growing the company and their community. They soon discovered the symbiotic relationship between Invena and Eureka “... Read More

Bruce Carselowey raised hogs and other livestock in the 1980’s and 90’s while being employed at Boeing Military Airplane Company. At Boeing, Bruce worked in configuration management and wrote proposals for various engineering functions at the company. When wholesale hog prices bottomed out in 1998, the only way Bruce could make his livestock side-business worthwhile was to sell his hog product directly to consumers.  “I found a processor for my hogs in McPherson that could package and label my product for retail, and I began selling to customers at the downtown Wichita farmer’s market on Saturdays,” said Carselowey. The demand for his local, fresh meats was strong, and his customer base grew.

Pivot to Full Time Entrepreneur

In November 2004, Walnut Valley Packing, LLC was born when Bruce Carselowey and partner bought the El Dorado Meat Processors facility from a family that was processing about six cattle a week and six hogs every other week – a level far below the... Read More

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