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Mayor Sly James speaks with Maria Meyers, executive director of KCSourceLink, at the 2018 Mayors Conference on Entrepreneurship in Kansas City, Missouri, July 2018.

A great entrepreneurial city is open to all

At the 2018 Mayors Conference on Entrepreneurship, Mayor Sly James spoke about the entrepreneurial spirit of Kansas City and the importance of collaborating with ecosystem builders.

This week, Kansas City, Missouri, was the main stage for entrepreneurship in America. More than 600 ecosystem builders, mayors and their staff, and entrepreneurs gathered for the 2018 Mayors Conference and the second-annual ESHIP Summit. Kansas City, the Kauffman Foundation’s hometown, offered a dynamic entrepreneurial backdrop for those working to develop a new economic model that has entrepreneurs at its heart.

“As mayor, you can have ideas, you can have a vision, but you have to cast that vision, you have to research that vision, and you have to do it with lots of support from brilliant people that are in and out of the system,” said Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

Hosting the Mayors Conference in coordination with the second-annual ESHIP Summit was designed to reinforce the idea that people involved in public policy and ecosystem builders – those working to support entrepreneurship – should work together to maximize their local economies with grassroots economic development.

Mayor James closed the conference with ecosystem builder and KCSourceLink Executive Director Maria Meyers to discuss creating a culture of entrepreneurship. They discussed the challenges and successes of trying to make Kansas City one of the most entrepreneurial cities in America.

“Our greatest challenge is also our greatest opportunity,” said James. “Although we’ve seen exciting growth in entrepreneurship, it hasn’t reached all of our communities, especially communities of color. We know more diverse teams make stronger teams and if we break down this barrier, there will be no stopping Kansas City’s growth for all.”

Matthew Marcus, ecosystem builder and Kansas City Startup Foundation chief innovation officer, said, “I think we’re trending as a great entrepreneurial city, but I think that if we want to grow even more we need to have a highly active and connected community in every sector of the city,” he said.

And that is the challenge ecosystem builders in Kansas City, and from every city, came to tackle together this week.

Marcus thinks Kansas City is on track to become an even more entrepreneurial, vibrant, inclusive, and diverse startup community and city. “I know this because I see it every day, and I hear it from visitors that come here and experience it, and go, ‘Wow, something great is going on here; what in the world are you guys doing?’ So, I like our odds.”

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