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Entrepreneurial Growth is Transforming Kansas City into ‘Silicon Prairie’

by Allison Crist | Oct 24, 2016

Silicon Valley is known for its high-tech corporations and thousands of startup companies, but for the past few years, Kansas City – or, as some are calling it, Silicon Prairie – has been catching up.

When Google Fiber chose KC out of more than 1,100 applicants to implement its new high-speed service, the metro definitely caught national attention, but as The Huffington Post says, “Kansas City has always been an entrepreneurial city.”

Startups are continually launching in KC, as evidenced by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Startup Activity Index. The report showed Kansas City jumped 11 spots from 2015, making it the second most-improved in the nation. According to Venture Beat, in five years the Midwest will have more startups than Silicon Valley.

“Kansas City’s popularity includes a skilled talent pool, a supportive startup community and its location right in the heart of Silicon Prairie,” Twentyseven Global said. “Home to the Kansas City Startup Village, the Sprint Accelerator, Think Big Partners, Digital Sandbox, the Kauffman Foundation, 1 Million Cups and other startup incubators and investors, Kansas City has an entrepreneurial spirit that just won’t quit.”

KCnext Silicon Valley

In 2016 alone, KC has gained titles such as No. 1 Best City to Bootstrap an Online Business, and made national lists that recognize value in growing startups, future ready economies, best cities for entrepreneurs and more.

Who else believes in KC’s technology scene? President Obama, for one. Kansas City first partnered with The White House in 2015 in an effort to increase smart city infrastructure, and President Obama just recently invested an additional $80 million. 

Also in 2016, Forbes named two KC Animal Health Corridor cities "Top Metro Areas for Startup Growth." Companies within the KC Animal Health Corridor represent 56 percent of total worldwide animal health, diagnostics and pet food sales. Its impact stems from its many benefits for startup businesses and existing companies, including its annual Investment Forum

Top-ranked Stanford Graduate School of Business is another asset throwing its support behind Silicon Prairie. According to Bloomberg, Stanford will cover tuition and fees for MBA students if they take a job in the Midwest that contributes to the region’s economic development after graduation. KCADC’s Jessica Nelson spoke with KMBZ, calling the idea a winner.

"A program like this where you're getting a great education and opportunity to explore and go back to city you're familiar with, [where] you have ties and [can] really help drive the innovation within that community -- that's fantastic," Nelson said.

With big things ahead such as the world’s largest coworking space and the ability to become a leader in self-driving car technology, there’s no doubt Kansas City is capable of competing with Silicon Valley.

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