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Watch: "1 Million Cups Kansas City: What are the advantages of being an entrepreneur in the Midwest?" | 0:43

The secret to a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem might be Midwest flavor

If you’re looking for remarkable potential for business growth, inclusiveness, access, openness, and support – look no further than the Midwest.

Deeply rooted in Kansas City, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation proudly accepts the accusation that we are Midwest “enthusiasts.” Wendy Guillies, president and CEO, has made it no secret that she believes being from, and living in, the heartland of America gives Midwesterners an entrepreneurial advantage.

What makes the Midwest so great for entrepreneurs and ecosystems? In a recent column, Guillies explains that Midwestern values align with characteristics that are imperative for ecosystems to survive.

“Ecosystems thrive on traits inherent to the Midwest, such as being practical – focusing on what works, which is often a mixture of many approaches; demonstrating humility – listening to others and encouraging them to join in creating solutions; and being resilient – not blaming others or getting defeated by setbacks,” Guillies said.

Guillies is not alone in this sentiment and it is embodied by the nearly 200 1 Million Cups (1MC) communities nationwide. The free program brings together members of entrepreneurial communities to educate, engage and inspire entrepreneurs around the country.

Tyler Prince, a 1MC organizer in Kansas City (1MCKC), believes the Midwestern advantage rivals the hype of places like Silicon Valley. “I think Kansas City, and the Midwest in general, is the next hub of entrepreneurialism,” Prince said.

Bill Johnson, a 1MCKC attendee, said the Midwest offers access and openness entrepreneurs may not find in other regions. “Here in the Midwest, folks I find are more readily willing to give that feedback that you might need,” he said.

Guillies believes “middleness” represents practicality, resilience, and humility, which is something that the heartland lives and breathes every day – an advantage the Midwest must seize upon to continue to reverse the generational decline of entrepreneurship in America.


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