Honoring Entrepreneurs of the Year

Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2019

Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

34th annual celebration recognizes Cerner founders and Kansas City leaders

The University of Missouri-Kansas City honored leaders and visionaries at its 34th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards. The celebration is sponsored by the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the university’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management.

The full list of 2019 honorees includes:

Henry W. Bloch International Entrepreneur of the Year and Hall of Fame Inductees:

Neal Patterson (posthumously), Paul Gorup and Cliff Illig, founders of Cerner based in Kansas City. Cerner grew from a tiny startup to the world’s largest independent health-information technology company. Illig is a principal owner of Sporting Kansas City, a Major League Soccer team that he, Patterson and three other partners bought from legendary sports entrepreneur and Hall of Fame member Lamar Hunt in 2006.

Cerner employs more than 29,000 associates in 26 countries worldwide. Illig shared gems from the founders’ journey for attendees to take away.

  • Treat employees as business associates.
  • Create a collaborative culture to tackle complex problems together.
  • Share the success with your team.
  • Get all of your employees in a room and talk.

“Kansas City is a town built by entrepreneurs,” Illig said. Recalling words from co-founder, Patterson, he said “the only way that Kansas City can grow and thrive is through the efforts of its entrepreneurs. We’re not going to attract the big national companies to relocate or headquarter in our city. We have to grow our own.”

Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year:

Michael Rea, founder and CEO of Rx Savings Solutions. A former retail pharmacist, Rea founded the company in 2008 to give patients affordable options after routinely seeing consumers struggle to pay for medications.

“Persistence is the most important character trait for an entrepreneur. It’s essential for success,” said Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year Michael Rea. “During the difficult times, knowing what you’re fighting for will get you through.”

Entrepreneur of the Year Winners 2019

Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Marion and John Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship:

Maria Meyers, executive director of the UMKC Innovation Center and founder of SourceLink. She has developed a number of resources for entrepreneurs in the Kansas City region and nationwide. Her mission: turning fragmented small-business resources into cohesive and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems that attract startups, accelerate business growth and create jobs.

“In the past few years, we’ve been saying ‘let’s make Kansas City America’s most entrepreneurial city,’ and we’ve worked together to make that happen,” Meyers said.

Student Entrepreneur of the Year:

Alessandra Brandolino, a UMKC junior business administration major with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and the vice president of UMKC Enactus. She was part of the three-member UMKC Enactus team that represented North America at the 2019 Unilever Future Leaders’ League, an invitation-only global business case competition in London.

“I’ve realized that my idea of entrepreneurship wasn’t changing the world myself, but inspiring others to change the world, Brandolino said. “I’m a social entrepreneur and I hope to create my own social venture someday.”

Event chairs for 2019 were Terry Dunn, Bob Regnier and Julie Wilson. Regnier is also chair of the Henry W. Bloch Legacy Fund.

The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards event is an iconic Kansas City tradition started in 1985. Beyond its philanthropic cause, this event is a valuable forum where Kansas City CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, industry legends, world-class faculty and students alike are able to celebrate a common passion. The event celebrates entrepreneurial spirit and serves as a source of inspiration to future generations of innovative entrepreneurs.

All proceeds from this event directly benefit the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s student and community programs. The Regnier Institute at the Bloch School focuses on connecting students and community members with a comprehensive combination of world-class research, renowned faculty, cutting-edge curriculum and experimental programs driven to deliver results and nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Bloch Family Foundation Makes $21-million Investment in the Bloch School

A portion of the generous gift will go toward the renovation and expansion of Bloch Heritage Hall.

Gift will be divided among three major initiatives

The Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation is donating $21 million to the University of Missouri-Kansas City to provide additional support to the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. This latest gift from the Foundation created by the school’s late namesake and benefactor will be used for enhancements to undergraduate and graduate education programs, expansion and renovation of Bloch Heritage Hall, and support programs that will help students during pivotal times in their university careers.

This $21 million gift will be shared by three major initiatives: $11.8 million for programming within the Henry W. Bloch School of Management; $8 million for infrastructure improvements to and expansion of the Bloch Heritage Hall building; and $1.2 million to support RooStrong, the university’s new program for increasing student retention, six-year graduation rates and career outcomes.

This new gift comes less than a year after the announcement of a new $20 million scholarship program funded by the Bloch Family Foundation, the H & R Block Foundation, UMKC and the University of Missouri System. About 800 students will benefit over the next nine years from the earlier scholarship gift. In 2011, Henry Bloch made the largest philanthropic gift in UMKC history, $32 million, to fund construction of the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“The commitment of the Bloch Family to Kansas City and to Kansas City’s university has been steadfast, highly impactful and beyond generous,” said Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D., chancellor of UMKC. “This gift honors the memory of Marion and Henry Bloch by building upon the legacy they created with the Henry W. Bloch School of Management as the provider of premier business education that Kansas City needs and deserves.”

Tom Bloch, chairman of the Bloch Family Foundation, said the gift demonstrates the continuing legacy of Marion and Henry Bloch.

“My parents believed in Kansas City, and they believed in UMKC as a key engine for progress in the community they loved. The Bloch Family Foundation has consistently supported growth through access to high quality business education in greater Kansas City, and we are confident that the initiatives supported by this gift will advance that goal,” Bloch said.

Brian Klaas, Ph.D., dean of the Bloch School, said the gift will make a profound difference in educational programming.

“This incredible investment will drive creation of exciting new programs, empowering Kansas City’s Business School to meet the needs of employers and organizations in our region, provide opportunities for working professionals and executives and provide outstanding opportunities for undergraduates,” Klaas said.  “Exciting things are happening here, and the enthusiasm is contagious and energizing.”

The entrepreneurial engine of the Kansas City region is fueled by graduates of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Kansas City’s Business School is inspired by the innovative and civic mindset of its namesake. Henry W. Bloch co-founded the tax empire H & R Block and is considered one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs. He embodied the philosophy of working hard, generating success and completing the continuum by giving back to the community through philanthropy and social entrepreneurship.

Sunderland Foundation Commits $5 Million for Heritage Hall Updates

Original home of the Bloch School will receive classroom and technology improvements

By Patricia O’Dell, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Students on UMKC campus

Students talk outside Bloch Heritage Hall. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

The Henry W. Bloch School of Management Heritage Hall will receive $5 million of a $15 million gift to the University of Missouri-Kansas City for capital improvements from the Sunderland Foundation. The gift is a critical part of a capital campaign that will allow the school to add and improve classrooms to accommodate anticipated enrollment growth, incorporate state-of-the-art technology and create a hub for student engagement.

“We treasure Heritage Hall as the original home of the Bloch School,” said Tom Bloch, UMKC Trustee and UMKC Foundation board member. “The Sunderland Foundation’s tremendous gift will expand student opportunity by adding classrooms and upgrading our ability to incorporate technology in these older classrooms to meet the needs of our growing enrollment.”

Heritage Hall is comprised of two parts. The original Tudor Revival-style Shields Mansion was built in 1909 and an addition was completed in 1986. While the state-of-the-art Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation opened in 2013, Heritage Hall has not received an upgrade since the addition was completed in 1986.

“Our experience after the opening of the world-class Bloch Executive Hall showed us very clearly how the physical environment can transform the way students learn and engage and also our ability to partner with employers and community organizations,” said Brian Klaas, Ph.D., dean of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. “Thanks to the Sunderland Foundation’s gift, we will be able to provide a much improved experience for our students, enhancing their skills and providing them with expanded opportunities. The improved space and technology will allow us to innovate in how we teach, how deliver our programs and how we partner with our stakeholders.”

Celebrating Our Namesake: The Leadership and Legacy of Henry Bloch

Henry W. Bloch (1922-2019) was a devoted friend and supporter of several institutions in Kansas City, but none more so than the school that bears his name: the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

In 2011, he and his wife, Marion, established the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, dedicated to improving the Greater Kansas City area. The foundation focuses on seven areas, ranging from social services to education for the poor, disadvantaged and underserved to the family’s “legacy organizations.”

Some people close to Henry have compared his dedication to serving Kansas City in multiple facets to the holistic care of the mind, body and soul. And that is reflected in the family foundation’s priorities: the mind’s focus has been the Bloch School, the body served through Saint Luke’s Health System and the soul with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Henry Bloch studied at UMKC, then known as University of Kansas City, before graduating from the University of Michigan in 1944. As a former student, Henry had a natural affinity for UMKC. He endowed the former UMKC School of Business in 1986, and the name was changed to Henry W. Bloch School of Management in 2010.

“Henry’s vision was for the Bloch School to serve Kansas City by pursuing excellence. His vision was for us to serve as Kansas City’s Business School, supporting the start-ups, the established firms, and the non-profit and governmental organizations that are all critical to our community’s well-being,” said Brian Klaas, Ph.D., dean of the Bloch School. “Because of Henry, the Bloch School has developed world-class programs, attracted outstanding faculty and staff, and provided opportunities to students from all walks of life. Henry’s life will serve as our inspiration, reminding us to work hard, take risks, fly right, and do good.”

Henry’s hope has been for the Bloch School to be considered a center of excellence for UMKC and Kansas City, creating leaders and the next generation of entrepreneurs by recruiting top students from around the country.

In 2013, Henry attended the school’s 60th anniversary celebration. He recalled a challenge that he issued in 1986 when he endowed the school. “I challenged the school to strive to be the best, to achieve greatness,” he said at the celebration. “Today, I am proud to be able to stand here before you and witness that success.”

Following Henry’s vision, the Bloch School of Management has a strategic focus on twin pillars of excellence: entrepreneurship and innovation in the for-profit sector and social entrepreneurship and innovation in the public and nonprofit sector.

His support over the years has manifested in many ways, including the creation of the state-of-the-art Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2013. This building came to fruition thanks to a $32 million gift from Henry to further elevate the Bloch School as a world leader in educating and training future generations of leaders.

Over the years, Henry loved to come to the school for impromptu visits with faculty, staff and, especially, students. Students in the Bloch School’s Entrepreneurship Scholars program in past years found Henry to be a familiar and welcome fixture in classes and at campus events, always ready with a thoughtful question or a timely suggestion.

At the 2013 graduation ceremony for the scholars, he said “as a retired CEO, I can tell you the view from the top is pleasant and satisfying. But the never-to-be-forgotten excitement, the fun and challenge, is in the climb.”

Bloch Associate Professor Brent Never interviewed

Photos by Photos by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt broadcast live from Kansas City on Thursday, Oct. 11. Brent Never, associate professor of public affairs at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, was interviewed for a story that aired during the show.

The story is about the historic role Troost Avenue has played in Kansas City as a physical and symbolic dividing line.

Never calls himself an urban geographer. His work includes identifying communities underserved by human services and he teaches courses in research methods, public policy analysis, program evaluation and public-private partnerships.

In a 2016 UMKC Bloch Magazine article, Never said he is concerned about equity in the availability of services. His research looks at ways to identify situations in which services are not readily available to people in need. And he contends that geography has a profound influence on where service providers locate.

Photos by Photos by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

“As a community, Kansas City has stark boundaries: Troost Avenue, the state line, the Missouri River,” he said in the article.

As a professor, Never’s work also includes introducing students to gentrification within cities, showing them the history and talking about the legacy. He and other UMKC professors often take their students out in the community. He said young people value the history of Kansas City, and are determined to make some positive changes.

“Kansas City is a city of neighborhoods,” Never said. “At UMKC, we’re a city university. Our students need to feel this community is part of the university.”

Bloch Re-Branded

New visual identity showcases Kansas City’s business school

UMKC’s Bloch School of Management unveiled its new brand and marketing campaign on Oct. 2, accompanied by T-shirt giveaways, retro music, a barbecue lunch and lots of selfies. The campaign will roll out across the city, starting the week of Oct. 8.

Dean Brian Klaas, with help from his school’s namesake Henry Bloch and son Tom Bloch, hosted the brand reveal party as students, faculty and staff gathered for the outdoors event on an unusually warm and breezy day.

From this day forward, Klaas told the crowd, we at Bloch are claiming “We Are Kansas City’s Business School.”

Bloch has been working on a rebrand for several months with the Kansas City-based marketing firm, Trozzolo, and the UMKC Strategic Marketing and Communications team. The project, funded by the Bloch Family Foundation, called for developing a new brand identity for Bloch to elevate awareness among prospective students and the greater Kansas City community. The project included feedback from campus and community via focus groups, quantitative surveys and input from current students, faculty and staff at Bloch.

Klaas laid out the core ideas of the brand identity at the Oct. 2 event.

“We are proclaiming that the Bloch School gives students the belief, the courage and the tools to build businesses, shape communities and lead the future,” he said. “We are committed to growing Kansas City’s leadership. Our students are this community’s future.”

Furthermore, he said, our students benefit from:

  • Our long-standing, deep connections to the Kansas City community, including global organizations headquartered here.
  • Our strong alumni network offers a welcoming community for Kansas City’s future business leaders, and opportunities for connections across the globe.
  • A curriculum powered by the innovative and civic mindset inspired by Henry W. Bloch, which is so relevant in today’s world. The result is a higher return on their educational investment than students can find anywhere else.

For those accustomed to UMKC’s signature blue and gold, the campaign adds a new twist: A bold, resonant orange. The orange was inspired by design elements within the ground-breaking Bloch Entrepreneurship Hall and because it partners so well with UMKC’s traditional colors.

An orange square and accent color will be featured, along with blue and gold, in ads, billboards and social media – and even in a life-size acrylic orange block that will be featured at community events and used as a way to engage the public at community events.

“It …is an instantly recognizable symbol of all that we stand for,” Klaas proclaimed.

Indeed, the orange color was a standout feature of the human-size selfie booth at the launch event. Large, stacked orange blocks proclaimed, #WeAreBloch. The display anchored one side of the outdoor plaza between the Bloch Legacy Building and the Bloch Entrepreneurship Hall. Students and staff clustered around Henry Bloch for photos.
For each selfie posted to Bloch’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts, a donation will be made to a scholarship fund for Bloch students.
Reactions to the new brand? One student called the campaign “dope” – fresh and modern.

Vice Chancellor Anne Hartung Spenner noted that the community-wide rollout of the campaign will begin the week of Oct. 8.

“You will see Bloch’s new brand across the greater Kansas City metro area and beyond – from billboards to bus wraps, from social media to digital ads,” she said. “Just like our Bloch students and our more than 10,000 alumni in the area, you’ll see us everywhere.”

Bloch Faculty Win National Award on Data Analytics

Alteryx, Inc. a company working to revolutionize business through data science and analytics, announced the 2018 Alteryx Analytics Excellence Award winners and new ACE program members at the company’s annual Inspire Conference on June 7. Two Bloch faculty members were selected amongst the winners, who will share $25,000 to be donated to their charity of choice, in recognition of their commitment to the communities around them.

Jim DeLisle, Ph.D. Academic Director of the Lewis White Real Estate Center and Associate Professor of Real Estate

Brent Never, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor of Nonprofit Leadership
















Jim DeLisle, Ph.D., Academic Director of the Lewis White Real Estate Center and Associate Professor of Real Estate and Brent Never, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Nonprofit Leadership, drove a project that employed core functionalities of the Alteryx platform to harness the power of millions of disparate data points generated by Smart Cities, empowering city leaders to make smart decisions for allocating scarce resources. This year, the team began using Alteryx to teach students data analytics and to leverage open data to solve an intractable problem for many cities: abandoned housing and blighted neighborhoods.

To read the full case, click here.

Remembering Jack D. Heysinger

Dean Emeritus Jack Heysinger speaking to UMKC students

Jack D. Heysinger, Dean Emeritus of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, died June 4, 2018 at the age of 95.

Heysinger served as dean and Siegmund Harzfeld Professor for 16 years. Following his service as dean, he returned to teaching full time, retiring in 1991. Heysinger was also a lifetime donor to UMKC, with regular gifts supporting students in financial need.

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Remembering Kate Spade

The Bloch School is saddened by the passing of Kate Spade on June 5, 2018.

Spade, a native Kansas Citian and award-winning fashion designer and trendsetter, was the 2007 recipient of the Bloch School’s International Entrepreneur of the Year Award, as well as a 2017 inductee into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.

“Kate Spade truly embodied the entrepreneurial spirit. She was a brilliant, innovative creator, but she also understood that effort and determination mattered just as much as talent,” said Jeff Hornsby, Ph.D., Henry W. Bloch/Missouri Endowed Chair, Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation; and Director, Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “Her success and passion for entrepreneurship is why she was selected for the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. She was a terrific role model for our entrepreneurship students and community. She will be greatly missed.”