Kansas City Leaders Seek to Create America's Most Entrepreneurial City

Contacts:
Pam Whiting, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce (816) 374-5481, whiting@kcchamber.com
Barbara Pruitt, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, (816) 932-1288, bpruitt@kauffman.org

New No. 1 ranking of University of Missouri-Kansas City's Bloch School of Management adds momentum to effort

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Dec. 5, 2011 - As part of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's "Big 5" initiative announced in September to propel the region forward and create new jobs, area leaders have declared that Kansas City should be "America's Most Entrepreneurial City." That plan got a big boost today, as the University of Missouri-Kansas City's (UMKC) Bloch School of Management announced it has been named  No. 1 in the world in innovation management research.  The ranking is the result of a study conducted by scholars to be published in the March 2012 issue of The Journal of Product Innovation Management, a leading academic journal. In the ranking, UMKC tops such prestigious schools as M.I.T., Harvard, Stanford, Michigan State and Texas A&M.  

Also championing the initiative to create a "city of entrepreneurs" are Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sylvester James and Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Joe Reardon, who released an animated sketchbook video today to emphasize the importance of entrepreneurship to a city's identity and growth. The "City of Entrepreneurs" sketchbook can be viewed on the Kauffman Foundation's YouTube channel.  

"UMKC's new ranking is a huge accomplishment, not only for the university but for the region as a whole," says Jim Heeter, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber. "It represents a giant step forward as we begin our community-wide effort to make Kansas City 'America's Most Entrepreneurial City.'  It also comes on the heels of the Princeton Review's ranking of the Bloch School as among the Top 25 entrepreneurship programs in the country, and entrepreneur Henry Bloch's gift of $32 million to the school. They are definitely on a roll!"

Kansas City business leader Peter deSilva, chairman and CEO of UMB Bank, is heading up the effort to rally the community around creating a hub for entrepreneurial activity. The effort will leverage regional assets like the Kauffman Foundation, with its extensive research and programs to support entrepreneurs, including its new Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation; UMKC's renowned Bloch School; and the ultra-high-speed Google fiber network being implemented in both Kansas City, Mo. and Kansas City, Kan. in 2012.

"Entrepreneurs and the companies they create are the primary drivers of new business formation, employment growth and overall economic activity in the U.S.  They possess the vision and desire to grow their companies," deSilva says. "This big 5 idea is all about creating a comprehensive entrepreneurial ecosystem where entrepreneurship can flourish, an environment where Kansas City becomes known as the best place to start, nurture, and grow innovative and entrepreneurial businesses. We have tremendous positive momentum right now in our community, which positions us well for a burst of startup activity. And as the research demonstrates, the companies that start here, grow here and reinvest in their companies and the community."

"Kansas City has a very rich entrepreneurial history," echoes Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation. "Importantly, we have continued to build on that history, and as a result, are home to some very substantial companies created in the last three decades. On behalf of the Kauffman Foundation, I congratulate UMKC on its achievement and commend the Chamber and local leaders for pushing the entrepreneurship agenda. Just in declaring our intent to be 'America's Most Entrepreneurial City' we send a strong signal to the rest of the nation and take a big step forward in realizing it."

About the Greater Kansas City Chamber

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is the area's oldest and only regional chamber of commerce, serving both Kansas and Missouri companies throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area.  Founded in 1887, 6500 companies and organizations belong to The Chamber, including most of the community's major employers. 

The Chamber's mission is twofold:  to provide responsive and committed leadership that builds a vibrant and thriving community, and to assist our members in growing their businesses. For more information, visit www.kcchamber.com, and follow The Chamber on http://www.facebook.com/#!/greaterkc and www.twitter.com/kcchamberNEWS.