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Kansas City has emerged as a major player in the startup realm. In fact, its entrepreneurial ecosystem is bursting with new projects and initiatives, funding, and community support. Founders, investors, makers, educators, corporate leaders, and innovators of all persuasions are discovering that the city offers one of the most dynamic startup cultures in the country.

Just take a look at 1 Million Cups, a program developed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation—a longtime driver of inclusive startup initiatives—which gives entrepreneurs the chance to network with fellow founders, present and refine their ideas and pitches, and get feedback and advice from their peers every Wednesday (over cups of coffee … hence the name). Since its founding in 2012, 1 Million Cups has grown into a nationwide program that’s currently active in more than 200 communities.

That’s a lot of inspiration, education, and encouragement.

Kansas City Startup Foundation (working with Startland, a digital publication and website) is also building ties among entrepreneurs, helping fuel innovation in various ways, such as by curating events like Startup Crawl KC, a free tour of the KC startup community scheduled for early October. If you go, you can chat with founders, investors, and customers—and partake of “craft cocktails, live music, delicious snacks,” which is, after all, part of the KC vibe. And speaking of that vibe…

What is it about Kansas City?

KC has clearly become a startup mecca. But what sets it apart from other cities and allows it to attract, develop, and retain so much entrepreneurial talent?

How about flourishing communities, established and up-and-coming businesses, technology initiatives, affordability, support for SMBs, and tons of startup resources and opportunities?

That’s a quick summation, but here’s the takeaway: Kansas City is humming with growth, innovation, diversity, and cultural vitality.

To put all that in perspective, let’s take a KC pop quiz:

  1. Is there a rich tradition of excellent cuisine? Yes. Famous and highly touted barbecue, certainly—but also steakhouses, homestyle restaurants, farm-to-table venues, myriad food trucks, chef-driven specialty menus, and innovative offerings ranging from “sushi in a bowl” to “tomato ceviche with watermelon and cantaloupe, popcorn on the side.” No, really. Foodies rejoice!
  2. Is the Kansas City area calendar packed with festivals, celebrations, and cultural events? Yep. Take a spin through Visit KC’s Annual Events in Kansas City site. You’ll see offerings that include historical celebrations (Missouri Town 1855), uniquely KC events (Pig and Swig), musical programs (Spotlight 2019: Charlie Parker), events honoring various heritages (Juneteenth, Kansas City Irish Fest, El Día de los Muertos), and the world’s largest barbecue competition—of course—American Royal World Series of Barbecue!
  3. Does the city support small to midsize businesses? Absolutely. SMBs are recognized as vital to the city’s economy, and they’re being buoyed and pushed forward with programs such as the Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Celebration.
  4. Museums? Art galleries? You betcha. Kansas City is home to numerous world-class museums and galleries large and small, far too many to mention here. But this handful will get you started: the Negro League Baseball Museum, the American Jazz Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.
  5. Is there anything in it for the sports fan? Oh. Hell. Yeah. (What a gimme!) You have the Chiefs, the Royals, and Sporting Kansas City, for starters. Also, in 2014, the fans at Arrowhead Stadium earned the distinction of the “loudest crowd roar” in a game that saw the Chiefs defeating the New England Patriots 41 to 14. ROAR.

Kansas City by the numbers

  • Estimated population: 491,918
  • Median household income: $51,235
  • Gender dispersion: Males: 234,706 (48.8%); Females: 246,654 (51.2%)
  • Median age: 35.3 years
  • Median home cost: $192,000
  • Median apartment cost: $1,299

Higher education in Kansas City

  • Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • Grantham University
  • Rockhurst University
  • Pinnacle Career Institute-South Kansas CityAvila University
  • DeVry University-Missouri
  • Concorde Career Colleges
  • Heritage College-Kansas City
  • Vatterott College-Kansas City
  • Kansas City Art Institute

Sources: http://www.city-data.com, Kansas City Business Journal