Enactus Trip Benefits Art Students and Kansas City
The relationship between the Enactus team at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the City of Changsha, China has produced some positive benefits for Kansas City art students and for the City of Kansas City, Mo.
The recent trip to Changsha by six Enactus students marked the sixth time the Enactus team has visited China and the second visit to Changsha’s universities, administrators and city leaders. As a result of the travels and the ongoing relationship, a Memorandum of Understanding was created, which establishes a partnership between Kansas City and Changsha to determine how to improve trade and create business opportunities in the two cities.
“Our goal with the visit was to follow up on the MOU, and begin discussions on the concrete ways that each city could benefit from the other. This discussion centered on what both cities specialize in, determining the necessary decision-makers, and discussing the specific initiatives each city was working on,” said Ben Williams, assistant director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, instructor in the Global Entrepreneurship department and the Enactus adviser.
Changsha has recently developed a strong focus on entrepreneurship. The city, provincial, and the national Chinese governments have recently teamed up to build the Changsha High Tech Park, a high-tech incubator to promote entrepreneurship, at a cost of $800 million.
As a result of the Enactus trip, three Kansas City businesses will be housed in the incubator for a period of three years. Enactus will work with the city to identify the businesses for the space. Williams said they were also offered the opportunity to speak in front of the high-tech entrepreneurs that were currently housed in the Changsha High-Tech Park on their next trip to the city.
“While in Changsha, the team’s main priority was meeting with the Changsha Federation of Industry and Commerce and City Council members. Additionally, we were able to present to groups at Changsha University and Changsha College of Tourism,” said marketing major and Enactus member Chad Feather, a sophomore who was visiting China for the first time.
“We visited these universities to promote UMKC as an option for their graduate students and to showcase Kansas City’s entrepreneurship and tourist appeal,” said Feather. “To the students of the Changsha College of Tourism, we discussed the qualities of Kansas City and what Kansas City has to offer to visitors. China still relies heavily on travel agents for international travel, and this college produces the majority of their travel guides. The city of Kansas City recognized that if we could impress the travel guides, then they would promote Kansas City to Chinese tourists.”
“These trips are about developing relationships and promoting Kansas City. Things are very formal in China, as is developing relationships,” said Williams. “One surprise to all new travelers to China is the gift exchange, which is very important to set a friendly impression with those you are meeting with.”
Upon returning to KC, Kansas City Councilman Scott Wagner, who went to China with the group this year and in 2014, approached the Enactus team with a request.
“The city recognized that one of the shortfalls in Kansas City’s international dealings was the quality of gifts we gave our hosts compared to the high-quality, culturally meaningful gifts that our Chinese guests presented to us,” said Williams.
As a result, Enactus developed a competitive art and entrepreneurship show to create gifts for their Chinese friends that will be given out by the City of Kansas City on subsequent visits.
“Local artists have been encouraged to design concepts for gifts to present that can be used by the city and UMKC when visiting China and that are representative of our culture,” said Williams. “This will become an annual contest, which is a unique opportunity to use the talents of UMKC art students and other artists in Kansas City.”
Over 20 local artists showcased their work, and nine finalists were picked for the “Arts and Entrepreneurship Showcase” held during the Henry W. Bloch School of Management’s Entrepreneurship Week.
Jan Fellers was the winner of the showcase and received $1,200 for her concept. She created small paintings depicting different areas of Kansas City that were set in locally made frames made with native Kansas City-area wood.
Second- and third-place winners were Jackie Denning and Jhyesah Coulter, respectively. Denning’s entry was a series of works depicting Kansas City icons on various media. Coulter created a USB flash drive in the shape of the Liberty Memorial.
The three winners will turn their concepts into products with assistance from Enactus and Kansas City.
As if the trip and the contest weren’t excitement enough, Enactus was recently recognized for being “a premier student organization, developing students of the highest caliber” by Kansas City Mayor Sly James and the City Council.
Wagner introduced Resolution No. [R-2015-01097], which highlighted the teams’ successes in competitions, including its 2012 selection as the “All Star Team;” six trips to China and its numerous presentations in Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing and Xi’an; and bringing a Changsha delegation to Kansas City.
“We will continue to promote UMKC and Kansas City in China,” said Williams. “One selling point is its Midwest location. Chinese cities are densely populated. Changsha has more than eight million people with very little green space, and they love our trees, parks, the Plaza fountains, the arts and sporting events. We will continue to promote the things that truly represent Kansas City,” concluded Williams.
|Wandra Brooks Green, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications