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Superstars Initiative Shines Brighter as Chamber Widens the Spotlight (Photos)

Dan Smith, The Porter House KC; Vicky Kulikov, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; Jannae Gammage, foresight; Craig Moore, Black Excellence; and Craig Moore, founding executive director of Black Excellence, at the KC Chamber’s Small Business Superstars reception; photo by Channa Steinmetz, Startland News

Editor’s Note: The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is a non-financial partner of Startland News, serving as a media partner for the Small Business Superstars program.

For the 400 or so business owners who gathered in Lightwell Wednesday, being a small business owner has started to feel like something much bigger, said organizers of the KC Chamber’s Small Business Superstars initiative.

“This program shows appreciation for so many small businesses whose hard work and perseverance are often overlooked,” said Craig Moore, founding executive director of Black Excellence and one of the few ecosystem builders who have helped the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce bring the Superstars program to the masses in year 3.

A Wednesday night reception at the Haw Contemporary art gallery in downtown Kansas City’s Light Pit Building — and championed by tastes from the recently opened Strang Chef Collective — provided a show of in-person support for such entrepreneurs.

“Being in business after the pandemic and during a bloated economy is hard work,” Moore continued. “Superstars gives us (the community) the opportunity to say ‘Thank you’ and ‘We appreciate you’. That kind of recognition does wonders for these small business owners’ confidence and drive to keep going.”

RELATED: Strength in numbers: Chamber’s Superstars bench rises to 2,500 KC small businesses

Moore — opposite Dan Smith, The Porter House KC; Jannae Gammage, foresight; and Rickey Leathers, Savvy Salon KC – offered the House his perspective on program planning, which seeks to highlight the broad spectrum of entrepreneurs in Kansas City.

“This program is a true definition of collaborative work,” Moore said, noting that many of the Superstars were also featured in Black Excellence’s “Representation Matters” media campaign. “Our goal is to amplify these businesses to attract new customers and ultimately profit from the scalability of these businesses. For the House to invite us to partner with them in a shared vision to see our small businesses succeed is powerful and shows that united Kansas City stands behind its small businesses.”

The third year of the Superstars program brings pride and excitement, as well as widespread recognition, to the small business community, said Vicky Kulikov, the House’s small business director and one of the program’s principal organizers.

But the work is far from complete, he added.

“We are pleased to see the diverse makeup of the Superstars, but we know there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve even greater diversity of these small businesses,” said Kulikov. “They all deserve to be recognized and to feel seen!”

Check out a photo gallery of the event below.

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