It was truly an honor when I recently participated in the opening ceremony for the new Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in Kansas City, now open in the Bloch Executive Hall on UMKC’s Volker Campus.
The Hall of Fame is an ultra-modern, interactive setting that tells the remarkable stories of some of Kansas City’s greatest business leaders – people like Henry Bloch, Lamar Hunt, Ewing Kauffman and Barnett and Shirley Helzberg.
Few would argue those stories are not worth telling, or those individuals’ contributions to our community not worth celebrating. But why do so on the UMKC campus? None of these people are students or faculty; they’re not teachers or researchers.
The way I see it, hosting this hall of fame is exactly what we should be doing. UMKC is Kansas City’s university. It was founded by our community, and exists as a public entity to benefit and serve our community. The Entrepreneur Hall of Fame is a place designed to be a teaching tool through the stories it tells; a source of inspiration for people – our students, and our community – to reach higher and expand their vision of what is possible.
This Hall of Fame is a demonstration of why Kansas City truly is “America’s Most Entrepreneurial City.” The honorees and their stories are a testament to the record of achievement and success that has occurred right here in this community – a record that rivals that of any city in America. Students, graduates and the community at large will find role models to emulate; and see their success stories as potential road maps to follow.
For the Bloch School, hosting this institution is a natural outcome of our strategic mission to support entrepreneurship in Kansas City. In this Hall of Fame, we are honoring and preserving the past. We are educating and inspiring the present. And we are laying the foundation for the future.
That’s because entrepreneurship and innovation have always been the keys to Kansas City’s growth and development. They had to be. The cities of the east – Boston, Philadelphia, New York – already had been cities for more than a century when Kansas City first appeared. In order to compete, we had to work harder to stand out. We had to be bold and take risks, which is the essence of entrepreneurship.
You could say that process started with the construction of the Hannibal Bridge in 1869. That bridge won the competition, among a number of young communities, to build the first railroad bridge across the Missouri River. Winning that competition established Kansas City as a major metropolitan center.
That drive to be first, and best, is the essence of who we are as a community.
Each succeeding generation has learned from, and been inspired by, the one before. And now, this Entrepreneur Hall of Fame will provide a focal point for our finest entrepreneurship and innovation role models, and the inspiration they provide
I invite everyone in our community to visit this Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, situated proudly on our campus, and learn more about the 20 exceptional individuals whose achievements have earned them a place of honor in this hall.