Kansas Millennial Entrepreneurs Roundtable

Event date: January 19, 2022

  • Wednesday, January 19, 2022 6:00 PM  – 8:30 PM
  • Iron Rail Brewing705 South Kansas AvenueTopeka, KS, 66603United States (map)

On Wednesday, January 19th, 2022, the Millennial Action Project (MAP) hosted a roundtable event alongside the Kansas Future Caucus, bringing together young entrepreneurs from across Kansas to share their business success stories and discuss areas for collaboration with state legislators. The roundtable was made possible with support from the Kansas-based Kauffman Foundation, and sought to promote open dialogue between young business leaders and their state policymakers. Other attendees include fellow Kansas state legislators, business leaders, and members of the local nonprofit community.

After sitting down together for dinner and drinks, the event program began with inspiring recorded remarks from the Kauffman Foundation, which touched on the organization’s bipartisan policy initiative for lawmakers and business owners, America’s New Business Plan. MAP President and CEO Layla Zaidane spoke next on MAP’s mission to activate young bipartisan legislators and the success of the Kansas Future Caucus before turning it over to former Kansas State Representative Patty Markley to moderate the panel of entrepreneurs and legislators. 

Business founders and owners Rebecca Appelgren and Del-Metrius Herron each shared their experiences trading in traditional 9-5 jobs to become entrepreneurs and business owners in fields of medical aesthetics and real estate respectively. Representatives Tory Arnberger-Blew (R-112) and Rui Xu (D-25), co-chairs of the Kansas Future Caucus, discussed resources for business owners in Kansas and drew parallels from entrepreneurship to the leap of faith they each took to run for public office. Legislators and entrepreneurs alike spoke to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, from building company culture virtually to handling increased demand for constituent services with limited staff support.

Throughout the roundtable discussion, moderator Patty Markley pulled in themes of leadership and the importance for legislators and entrepreneurs alike to listen to their constituents and clients, but also to educate them. As Del-Metrius Herron commented, leadership is not just customer service, it’s also integrity, knowledge, and advocacy.

Entrepreneurs then had the opportunity to share with their legislators what they needed from policymakers. Whether it was clarity on qualifying for small business loans or the marketing and accessibility of available resources for entrepreneurs in Kansas, it was clear that the business community would benefit from getting to know their state representatives. The Kansas Future Caucus co-chairs spoke about programs they admired in other states to foster entrepreneurship such as tax incentives for microbreweries and other small businesses, and acknowledged areas where lawmakers can improve at marketing their state to create tourism around industry. 

To wrap up the panel, the legislators and entrepreneurs spoke to what they each wished their communities and neighbors knew about them. Legislators emphasized that they wanted their constituents to know that they represent every individual in their district, and are in their roles as policymakers because they care about the well-being of their communities. Entrepreneurs wanted people to know that they serve as advocates for their neighbors, and their motivation to make their businesses succeed not just to make their customers happy, but also to contribute to the vibrancy of their communities.

For more information about any of the topics discussed during this roundtable, a copy of the recording, or any questions, please send an email to [email protected].

Earlier Event: January 13

Michigan Youth in Government with Layla Zaidane and Rep. Meijer

Later Event: January 26

#OurAmericanFabric: The Lunar New Year

Rep. Sara Jacobs


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