University Center Economic Development Grant will support infrastructure for entrepreneurs, job creation and corporate engagement
The U.S. Department of Commerce recently announced that KCSourceLink, a program of the Innovation Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, will be awarded a second grant to continue its work as a University Center Economic Development Program to spur entrepreneurship, economic growth and job creation. KCSourceLink received its first University Center Program grant in 2013.
“KCSourceLink and the University of Missouri-Kansas City have made great strides to cultivate an environment where entrepreneurship can flourish and entrepreneurs can pursue their dreams,” said Angie Martinez, regional director of the U.S. Economic Development Administration. “The EDA is proud to once again partner with KCSourceLink to make resources more visible and accessible for all entrepreneurs and to deliver such strong outcomes for the Kansas City economy and community.”
The five-year grant, awarded by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, will be awarded in annual installments. The grant is being matched with financial support from Kansas City’s corporate leaders, civic organizations and foundations.
Organizations and people who have committed to support KCSourceLink’s work of building an infrastructure to connect, empower and measure Kansas City entrepreneurship include, among others:
Black & Veatch
Burns & McDonnell
City of Kansas City, Missouri
The Illig Family Foundation
Dairy Farmers of America
SS&C DST Systems
Hall Family Foundation
JE Dunn Construction
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Kemper Family Foundation
The PNC Financial Services Group
Regnier Family Foundations
Jack F. and Glenna Y. Wylie Charitable Foundation
“SS&C began as a startup, so we know the importance of supporting entrepreneurs and innovation to move our industry forward. Our largest global office is in Kansas City, and we’re committed to the communities in which we operate,” said Bill Stone, chairman and CEO, SS&C Technologies. “SS&C DST has a long history of supporting Kansas City and we’re proud to renew our commitment with KCSourceLink.”
Building America’s Most Entrepreneurial City Starts with Entrepreneurial Infrastructure
“Our community is stronger and more entrepreneurial because of the work, vision and grit of KCSourceLink and its founder, Maria Meyers,” said Anne St. Peter, founder of Global Prairie and member of the KCSourceLink board of advisors. “We are proud to be working with KCSourceLink in our collective quest to make KC America’s most entrepreneurial city.”
For the past five years, KCSourceLink’s University Center Program has used university assets to support young firms that create jobs by connecting them to just-in-time resources to start and grow business in Kansas City.
KCSourceLink will continue to build on its programs, partnerships and progress toward making Kansas City America’s most entrepreneurial city, a community goal framed in 2011 by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
In 2012, with its first University Center Program grant, KCSourceLink developed a series of metrics to measure the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region in six key areas: 1) access to capital, 2) corporate engagement, 3) talent, 4) pipeline of opportunity, 5) awareness of Kansas City as a region for entrepreneurship and 6) technical resources.
Research completed in 2016 revealed that Kansas City has made measurable progress in finding capital for its early-stage companies and raising the awareness of the KC entrepreneurial ecosystem. But the research also found that corporate engagement still remains weak. To address this gap, KCSourceLink will work with local corporations to define and implement interventions that draw corporations and entrepreneurs together, creating access to industry research, investment, customer acquisition, connections and expertise, leading to jobs for the community.
“The UMKC Innovation Center and KCSourceLink play a leading role in the region’s initiative to advance entrepreneurship and drive innovation in Kansas City,” said UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal. “We are pleased to have the support of the Economic Development Administration and our local private-sector corporate partners to provide additional support to our entrepreneurs who create new ideas, businesses and jobs in our community.”
The Right Resources at the Right Time
The first task completed under the new grant award: a refreshed website with a more streamlined user experience for doers, makers, creators and entrepreneurs eager to find the resources they need to start and grow businesses in Kansas City.
At KCSourceLink.com, aspiring and established entrepreneurs can access a smart database of resources for their industry and challenge; review and download entrepreneurial guides for starting, growing and funding business in Kansas City; and get inspired by the journeys of other KC entrepreneurs. And when they have question about their particular business or just need help with their next step, they can reach out to KCSourceLink’s Network Navigators via email or phone to get a personal action plan to help move their business forward.
KCSourceLink uses the aggregated data from its website and one-on-one referrals to build community-wide collaborations to fill gaps in services and advance entrepreneurship in Kansas City. In recent years, KCSourceLink-led collaborations have improved access to capital for early-stage entrepreneurs, resulting in nearly a billion dollars in available capital. Discover other research, collaborations and their impact at WeCreateKC.com, KCSourceLink’s research portal.
Over the next five years, KCSourceLink will focus on building regional collaborations with university, government, community and business leaders to further identify and fill gaps in Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. KCSourceLink’s previous work increased available capital, advancing its mission to establish Kansas City as a financial hub for entrepreneurs. Identifying gaps has helped KCSourceLink create an action plan and collaborations to increase corporate engagement in KC entrepreneurship. And most importantly, KCSourceLink will continue to build inclusivity and assist every entrepreneur at any stage of business. To that effort, it will support distressed areas of the community to create economic mobility through access to funding, knowledge and resources.
“Our goal is to strengthen the fundamental building blocks of a prosperous and innovation-centric economy by building better connections between entrepreneurs, resources, capital, talent and the greater KC community,” said Maria Meyers, founder of KCSourceLink, executive director of the UMKC Innovation Center and vice provost of economic development at UMKC. “We know entrepreneurship doesn’t just add value to our society by way of startups, innovations and jobs. For many, it’s a path to economic independence, hope and prosperity.”