Celebrating Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs in Topeka

To celebrate the small businesses and entrepreneurs in Topeka, the Greater Topeka Partnership hosts the Small Business Awards luncheon to honor finalists in six different categories. In this blog, we’ll highlight finalists for Small Business Advocate, Non-profit Award of Distinction and Emerging Entrepreneur of Distinction.

Missed the first blog? Catch up here!


Small Business Advocate

This category is for an individual or organization that assist entrepreneurs through advocacy, technical assistance to small businesses, supports the development of entrepreneurs, or raises the awareness about the importance of small businesses to the community.

Azura credit unionAzura Credit Union
Jennifer Kirmse, 610 SW 10th Ave., 228-5370

Azura Credit Union’s efforts are aimed at advancing and improving Topeka’s small business community. Azura was able to provide the funding for the development of the Small Business Council with the Topeka Chamber of Commerce.  They host educational events for the community and business owners at the credit union.  Azura has also provided free financial literacy options for employers, employees and community partners. Azura also provides a free marketing program for locally owned businesses through their Local Perks program. 

Providing the opportunities to share local businesses with their membership and the community helps overcome the challenge of marketing a business.  They have worked hard to grow their Local Perks program by 31% in the past year.  When businesses join the program they highlight, they share their information with their 48,000 members and at times the public. 


tk business magazine TK Business Magazine
Tara & Braden Dimick, 7512 SW Falcon St., 438-7773

Raised by a small business family, Tara Dimick, owner of TK Business Magazine, saw the passion and heart that it took to build a business from the ground up.  Watching and experiencing the growth of a family business is the driver of the passion and mission behind TK Business Magazine.  It is their goal to support the small business owner through their triumphs and struggles. 

TK Business Magazine, TKmagazine.com, and TK Business LIVE radio show are focused on spotlighting businesses that are growing and innovating,  entrepreneurs that inspire, and experts that can help businesses be successful. 

TK Business Magazine is a free publication for the business community.  They work with their advertising partners who share their passion to grow business in Topeka and know that sharing a positive and honest story about their local businesses is critical.  Their content is focused in four areas; inspiration, growth, expert advice and innovation.  Their magazine is distributed with an aggressive focus on high readership to ensure that they are sharing the story of local businesses that are growing and innovative. 


Non-profit Award of Distinction


Valerie Nicholson-Watson, 215 SE Quincy, 861-7719

Founded in 1979 by a group of faith-based, nonprofit, and business leaders, Harvesters is the community’s link between an abundant food supply and people in need.  Their mission is to feed hungry people today and work to end hunger tomorrow.  

Nearly 1,000 volunteers serve each month at the Topeka facility, packing senior commodity boxes, bread, bagging fresh produce or packing BackSnack.   Harvesters acquired a retired bus from the Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority and retrofitted it to carry fresh produce and some refrigerated product.  This bus travels the third Friday of each month to four locations. 

Harvesters has partnered with the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library to provide free lunch and after-school meals for kids and teens both in their main building and on their Bookmobile. 


lets helpLet’s Help Inc.
Linda Kehres, 200 S. Kansas Ave., 270-5238

Providing food to the community to combat hunger was the first initiative for Let’s Help back in 1969 when Patty Coughlin, the founder, recognized the tremendous need in the Topeka community to help those facing extreme adversity.  Over the years they have continued to be an advocate for those living in poverty, by serving 89,000 meals through their Community Outreach Meal Program each year and giving out 3,600 emergency food boxes each year to families caught in a period of crises. 

Let’s Help has expanded their focus to begin offering clients the tools needed to create self-sufficiency in their lives through Adult Basic Education and GED classes.  They work with nearly 200 students each year through their education programs. 

Let’s Help has an active presence on the Homeless Task Force, as well as the Shawnee County Advocacy Council on Aging.  They are partners with the National Senior Community Service Employment Program, Vocational Rehabilitation and Project Topeka. 


ValeoValeo Behavioral Health Care, Inc.
Bill Persinger, Jr., 330 SW Oakley Ave., 228-3071

Valeo Behavioral Health Care, Inc. is one of 26 Licensed Community Mental Health Centers in Kansas.  Valeo serves adults, while Family Service and Guidance Center, an affiliate of Valeo, serves children and families. 

Valeo operates 28 programs and services, including the full range of substance abuse treatment, as well as three transitional residential care facilities.  Valeo also operates one of only two Co-Responder Programs in the state where Valeo staff work on the street with law enforcement responding to adults who may have mental illness and be in some type of distress or crisis.  They also run a program, one of only two in the state, for older adolescents and young adults who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis-called the Navigate Program. 

Valeo has a partnership with the Topeka Rescue Mission (TRM) in collaboratively meeting the needs of persons who are homeless and who have mental illness and/or addiction. 


Emerging Entrepreneur of Distinction

This category is for a successful business owner who has been in business less than three years.


Amy and Kim with Ethan and AnnaEthan & Anna Children’s Boutique
Kim Adair, Aimee Rosenow, 2829 SW 29th St., 845-3019

Ethan + Anna, LLC was founded in January of 2017 by Aimee Rosenow and Kim Adair, named for their two oldest children.  They secured financial backing and traveled to Dallas for their first buying market.  A short 6 months later, they had a boutique space and opened their doors with help from the Kansas Small Business Development Center, Entrepreneurial and Minority Business Development Incentives, and the support of the Greater Topeka Partnership. 

At Ethan + Anna, one of their core missions has been to spread kindness and support of their community.  They have partnered with Ronald McDonald House of Northeast Kansas for their very first community fundraiser in the boutique.  They have also teamed up with Couture for Cancer and  Junior Achievement for their annual events.   


happy bassetHappy Basset Brewing Company
Eric Craver, 6044 SW 29th St., 640-3151

Happy Basset Brewing Company owned by Eric and Marne Craver began operations in July of 2016.  Both, Eric and Marne have full-time careers that they are passionate about and do not want to leave, which has posed a challenge in time management.  Once opened they quickly needed to add a brewer, bartenders, and servers taking their employees to a steady 6-7 up until the middle of 2017.  They have continued to grow and currently have 12-14 employees. 

Happy Basset is under contract for a new facility that will serve as a production facility and help them continue to grow their distribution network and brand within the city and region.  They have partnered with other local businesses, knowing that the growth of one business within our city is beneficial to the overall growth. They are proud sponsors of FOTZ and several of the zoo events. 


the red doorRed Door Home Store, LLC
Jesse Borjon, 2131 SW Fairlawn Plaza Dr., 249-9438

The Red Door experience begins at their storefront with their classic traditional red doors that set the tone for the in-store experience.  Creativity and imagination is a must with the products and services that they offer.  They attend several home goods markets throughout the year to find unique one-of-kind items and blend them with other items to reflect what you would find in a well-decorated home.  The store changes with the seasons to offer seasonal decorating items. 

They have participated in the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children of Shawnee County, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Holiday Homes Tour.  They have also made donations to numerous community events and organizations, including Topeka Symphony; Topeka Collegiate; Sheltered Living, Inc.; Most Pure Heart of Mary School; Washburn University Athletics and numerous other organizations.  



This year’s Small Business Awards Luncheon is set for Tuesday, May 15, at noon at the Manor Conference Center, Capitol Plaza Hotel. 

Tickets are available for purchase here, but registration closes today: https://topekakscoc.wliinc28.com/events/38th-Annual-Small-Business-Awards-834/details



Thank you to all of our sponsors!

Platinum Sponsor: Envista Credit Union 
Silver Sponsor: Kaw Valley Bank
Media Sponsor: KSNT News
Production Sponsor: KTWU
Centerpiece Sponsor: CoreFirst Bank & Trust


A Special “Thank You” to the following:

 Small Business Awards Selection Committee, comprised of small business owners and past award winners, for their time and consideration in selecting this year’s award winners. 

Cytek Media Systems for the audiovisual.
University Florists for the table arrangements.
Westside Stamp and Awards for the awards.