I am proud to be the Chancellor of UMKC, Kansas City’s university, because education empowers people to seize opportunity and make the most of it.
But I spent most of my life in business. I’ve seen what business can do for a community. It makes a significant difference when successful entrepreneurs and business people are willing to come to the table and help others.
While I was at Aquila in Kansas City, the ownership urged me to get involved in civic affairs. And it was there that I began to see how much of a pillar the business community is for this great city. I saw first-hand the involvement of the business community in philanthropy, in education, in civic affairs and in the arts. I saw the opportunity that business success creates for growth and progress in so many other areas.
That opportunity is the driving force of this community, the energy source that makes Kansas City a great community. From startups to centuries-old, businesses in all stages in Kansas City give back to the community by donating money, time and expertise.
We are fortunate to have lots of homegrown entrepreneurs whose businesses date back well into the last century and beyond. When we think of them, and what a leap of faith they took to begin and persevere, we think of AMC Theaters, Cerner, Hallmark Cards, Russell Stover Candies, H & R Block, United Missouri Bank and Sosland Publishing, to name a few. Some of these folks started out going door to door to get their name out. Look where they are today.
At the national level, the next generation of business owners and entrepreneurs are asking, “Where is the best place to locate?” They are combing the country for the most appealing and desirable business climates. They are looking for places that support and encourage economic development, communities with adequate housing and other amenities to draw in talented employees, places where the workforce is well educated and where the arts and intellectual growth are respected.
When they ask the question, we need to let them know the answer is: “Come to Kansas City.”
I love being part of this community. Kansas City has pillars, but what Kansas City is, what sets it apart, is that Kansas City is an anchor. It grounds you. It helps you hold fast when the waves come in high. I have seen people turn down opportunities to advance their careers because those opportunities would take them away from Kansas City. It is because we are so anchored that so many Kansas Citians are so committed to giving back to this community.
— Excerpted from remarks delivered at the 2015 Annual Dinner of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce