Buy tax credits, aid businesses

Wichita-based NetWork Kansas needs to sell a little more than $400,000 in 75 percent state entrepreneurship tax credits before the end of the year.

The program allows donors to buy the tax credits, which are used as seed capital for entrepreneurs and small-business owners, said Steve Radley, director of NetWork Kansas.

Donors will receive $75 of every $100 they contribute to directly offset income tax liability. If the credits aren't sold, they are lost, Radley said.

"We're again trying to wrap up our year," Radley said. "It's been a successful year, utilizing about $1.5 million with some of our e-communities working on raising some funds."

The tax credits raise private money to provide capital to entrepreneurs and small-business owners in rural and distressed areas of Kansas, often working as partners with personal capital and bank loans, Radley said.

The money goes directly to start-up and struggling new businesses, like the $3,500 in NetWork Kansas' seed capital that saved Tim Kasting's Augusta restaurant.

What opened in May 2008 as the Red Brick Deli is the Red Brick Grill at Fourth and Walnut in Augusta after two moves.

"I think the name 'deli' scared off the Augusta people initially," Kasting said. "I didn't get the amount of people in that I needed to survive.

"Because of the stabilization of that cash to pay off some of the deli's bills, I was able to move down the street into a restaurant people vacated and get a fresh start."

The result was the Red Brick Cafe, which immediately drew the patrons needed to balance Kasting's books, and to move to a bigger building a few months later as the restaurant grew into the Red Brick Grill.

"I could have closed the deli," Kasting said. "I could have walked away from that note, but because they gave me this chance and this opportunity, NetWork Kansas enabled us to blossom."

Donors also can designate a portion of their contributions to one of the program's selected entrepreneurship communities: Greeley County, Finney County, Kiowa County, Osage County, Pottawatomie County, Scott County, Hillsboro, Inman or Salina.