CBW Bank has made an annual, renewable grant to The Foundry in Downtown Pittsburg by becoming a top-tier member with the Foundry at Block22. The partnership provides an opportunity for CBW to support innovation and entrepreneurism in the Southeast Kansas region.
The Foundry at Block22 is designed to focus the power of visionaries and create the city’s next generation of entrepreneurs. Located on the ground floors of the National Bank and Opera House Hotel buildings, it is home to a variety of innovative, creative teams, including Pittsburg State’s University Strategic Initiatives unit.
“What we are trying to create are those building blocks and infrastructures that help support continued economic growth and shared prosperity for the region,” said Shawn Naccarato, PSU chief strategy officer who also plays the lead role at Block22 as the head of University Strategic Initiatives. “So, whether that is a student or community member, we want there to be this access point there for those folks who have ideas and are interested in that kind of thing. Having CBW as the top-level-founder-tier-financial institution and a supporting member is a big deal. I think for them their hope is it would be able to have a physical presence there, and that they are able to expand their loan portfolio to more businesses in Pittsburg.”
The Foundry features a variety of components which help to spark ideas and create a space where entrepreneurial dreams can become realities. Foundry memberships are offered on a variety of levels and feature diverse collections of benefits, including access to the makerspace, admission to social events, open and dedicated desk space, contest participation and more.
“CBW Bank has become a member of the Foundry at the founder level, which is our top level of corporate organization membership, and requires a commitment of $20,000 a year for three years,” Naccarato said. “The membership program is a way for corporations and business organizations to be supportive of the Foundry at Block22…and gives them access to certain resources that are inside of the Foundry. So, whether that is meeting space or the promotion that comes (from) having their name placed prominently inside of a space that focuses on entrepreneurship, business development and stuff like that.”
A loan officer from CBW Bank will be on site each week to assist those who are seeking help from the Kansas Small Business Development Center located in Block22 as most of those individuals are either starting a new business or enhancing an existing business.
“As being members of the Foundry, they’ll have a loan officer who will have be having office hours,” Naccarato said. “He’s going to be there one day a week to provide loan services, particularly focused on small businesses and individual loan products. So, it is a way for them to deepen their engagement in the Pittsburg community, and hopefully for them to have an opportunity to provide more loans or provide more capital funding to existing and new businesses.”
CBW Bank, founded in 1892 in Weir, Kansas, has in recent years embarked on a modernization initiative. Its membership at The Foundry will include a seat on The Foundry Advisory Board as well as a host of other benefits including signage at the facility and participation in Foundry events and programs, as well as Idea Shop membership for company employees. CBW Bank Loan Officer Ryan McMillan said he was appreciative of the efforts of PSU, as well as the City of Pittsburg and the Vecino Group, for the opportunity to be part of something so innovative and exciting.
“The Foundry provides good access to small businesses when it comes to financial consulting, business advice, and resources that are critical to being successful, particularly to small businesses who wouldn’t have access to those services otherwise,” said McMillan. “CBW Bank is focused on small business community banking, (and) we want to provide a service to the community, so this is a logical fit for us.”
Naccarato believes the partnership with CBW will benefit Block 22 and the Foundry.
“This will be the physical manifestation of that partnership,” Naccarato said. “What we really were trying to do with Block 22 is to create that space, particularly in the Foundry there, where it’s bringing these different resources together in one spot, so that if you have somebody–an entrepreneur or innovator who has an idea–we have the resources there for them to be able to move that idea along. When the Idea Shop launches later this fall, that’s going to be our maker space where we can do prototyping and those sorts of things “
The CBW’s modernization initiative includes them working through this partnership to help small businesses in in Pittsburg area.
“Their hope is that by being partners with us this will expand their reach in Pittsburg,” Naccarato said. “…but also with Block 22 being the hub for entrepreneurialism and business development for the southeast Kansas region, I think that their hope, and our hope as well, is it that it helps them to connect to those businesses.”