Without GROW Kansas, Razer Precision Instruments (RPI) would not be a business today, according to its president, Kenny Burris. RPI manufactures a small pressure gauge vital to many processes and industries. “Faulty gauges created the idea for a business,” Burris said, “to build a better gauge for industry.” With help from GROW Kansas, the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), Burris is making a go at it from his warehouse in Junction City, Kan.

Early on, Burris recognized that he needed technical assistance and access to capital. He reached out to Bret Lanz, commercialization manager at Technology Development Institute (TDI) at Kansas State University. Lanz said RPI had an idea for the business, and it had experienced owners. It needed help, however, with the manufacturing piece of the business plan. TDI provided the technical assistance and connected Burris with funders.

A round, chrome gauge on an orange metal stand is highlighted against a bright blue sky and brown Kansas prairie.

Help from GROW Kansas and others allowed Razer Precision Instruments to manufacture small pressure gauges vital to many industries.

“When we began talking with them,” Lanz said, “they had an idea for a business and had identified a market need but had no plan on how to enter the market. We worked with them to detail out the entire business plan and pull together the financials based on their projected sales.” With that complete, Lanz connected Burris with local lenders. Commerce Bank-Manhattan, Kansas, did the initial financing, and Great Plains Development stepped in to cover the gap financing of $100,000 using the GROW Kansas funds.

GROW Kansas funds are a lifeline in a difficult equity market

Steve Radley, CEO of NetWork Kansas, has seen phenomenal growth in opportunities to provide debt and equity funding through GROW Kansas, the SSBCI. Radley manages the public funding, which also requires private participation, for the state. He and his team have deployed capital quickly to businesses in need of lending and equity products.

The State of Kansas launched the GROW Kansas Loan and Equity Investment programs in August 2022. “These programs could not have come at a better time," Radley said. As of January 2024, GROW Kansas has provided more than $10.7 million in companion loans to 113 businesses. “These loans have not only leveraged an additional $41 million in private capital,” Radley said, “but have provided much-needed capital at below market rates in a difficult interest rate environment.”

Of GROW Kansas loans, 55% were made to women- and minority-owned businesses, and 40% were made to businesses in rural areas and distressed areas of urban communities. In addition, GROW Kansas equity investments provided more than $6.5 million in equity investments. “This has been one of the most difficult equity markets in the last decade,” Radley said. “These equity investment funds have helped entrepreneurs raise more than $36.4 million in private capital.”

Kansas is also one of the first states in the country to request the second tranche of funds from the Treasury Department. “SSBCI is one of the most entrepreneurial federal programs we've ever worked with,” Radley said. He attributes that to responsive customer service provided by the U.S. Department of Treasury. (See links below for more on the SSBCI)

Commerce Bank partners with GROW Kansas to fund Razer Precision Instruments

GROW Kansas loaned RPI’s Kenny Burris $100,000 towards manufacturing his gauges. (Most RPI products are imported from Taiwan with quality checks in the United States.) It provided RPI a Rural Urban Distressed Loan for seven years at 6% fixed. Great Plains Development of Dodge City, Kansas, is servicing the GROW Kansas loan. Hannah Sparks, loan/grant assistant at Great Plains was a key player in setting that up. Great Plains primarily serves 28 counties in the southwest corner of Kansas.

Now GROW Kansas needed matching private funds. Commerce Bank-Manhattan, signed on for a $100,000, five-year fixed loan. Commerce is financing the inventory with an SBA backed line of credit and GROW Kansas for the gap funding.

RPI steps up production

RPI sold out of product from the initial order and placed a second, substantially larger, order. Again, NetWork Kansas was able to provide funding to help them expand. TDI also helped with import contacts, paperwork and locating an onsite inspection team to ensure the quality met expectations.

For more information

Interested in SSBCI programs in your state? External LinkThis downloadable chart shows SSBCI capital programs and contacts for the seven states, with links.


Ariel Cisneros

Senior Advisor

Ariel Cisneros is a lead community development advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City at the Denver Branch. Cisneros focuses on the community and economic developmen…