A long-standing source of business startup grant money will continue in Pratt County.
The Pratt County Commissioners renewed their long-term support of Great Plains Development when they renewed their membership during their weekly meeting Tuesday.
The $2,432 fee will keep the skills and talent at Great Plains Development available to help new businesses get started in the neighborhood.
Great Plains packages small business administrative loans to help businesses get started. They can also help the future business owner apply for a Kansas Small Cities Community Development Block Grant.
Paul Olsen, president of Great Plains Development Board of Directors, reminded the commissioners of the wide variety of businesses they have helped start in Pratt over the years.
Hotels, fast food restaurants, many veterinarians, the High Plains Cotton Gin, a portion of Blythe Family Fitness, plumbing heating air conditioning businesses, furniture stores, part of the ethanol plant and more have all benefited from the grant money provided though GPD.
“Our area has benefited greatly,” Olsen said.
One of the most recent success stories with Great Plains Development is Signature Style at 106 South Main in Pratt. The owner, Christina Howell, has recently opened the doors of her styling salon and business is good.
Success in business is not just getting funds to help open the business. A solid understanding of how business works, establishing a plan and working that plan are necessary to make a business a success. Howell did her homework and had a solid plan in place before making application.
Howell said Great Plains was very helpful and if it weren’t for them, she would not be in business. Some banks won’t help small businesses get started so Great Plains was a perfect match for her business.
Howell is an example of how to do it right. Too many times a new business will get the funds to start but don’t have the strong business sense necessary to succeed.  
“It’s amazing how many come in and want to borrow money but don’t know what they are doing,” Olsen said.
An example of a business benefiting from a GPD loan is if a person wants to start a business for $1 million, they can get a 504 loan with the bank loan for $500,000, put up 15 percent with $150,000 and get a grant for $350,000.
One of the most important elements to getting a loan and being successful is having good credit. People have to have this vital key then Great Plains can help them a lot. They will even help future business owner’s work with a bank to get a loan.
The goal of Great Plains is to create jobs and maintain jobs in each of the 28 counties in the GPD service area, Olsen said.
Anyone interested in information on Great Plains Development can go on-line to their website www.gpdionline.com or call them at 620-227-6406 and ask for either co-director Bob Wetmore or Faye Trent.
Great Plains started in 1983 when two other similar organizations, Greater Southwest and Nine County Development merged and set up headquarters in Dodge City as Great Plains Development.
The Board of Directors serves the 28 member counties and has 11 members, including two from Pratt (Pratt County Commissioner Joe Reynolds and Dwight Adams).
The member counties are: Barber, Barton, Clark, Comanche, Edwards, Finney, Ford , Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kiowa, Lane, Meade, Morton , Ness, Pratt, Scott, Seward, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens and Wichita Counties plus City of Great Bend, City of Garden City, City of Dodge City, City of Pratt, City of Liberal.