KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The U.S. Department of Commerce today announced that KCSourceLink, a program of the Innovation Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, will be awarded a $1 million grant to create a University Center Program to spur entrepreneurship, economic growth and job creation.
The five-year, $1 million grant, awarded by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, will be awarded in $200,000 annual installments. The grant is being matched with $1 million from Kansas City corporate leadership. The University Center Program will support high-growth entrepreneurship in the Kansas City region.
“UMKC has become a critical player in the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Kansas City region,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “We are pleased to have the support of the Economic Development Administration, and our local private-sector partners, to provide additional university-based support to our entrepreneurs who will create new businesses and jobs for our community.”
The University Center Program will increase the capital pool for startup companies; engage the corporate community in entrepreneurship; strengthen the network of resources for entrepreneurs and small business; and identify commercialization opportunities.
The regional initiative will play a leading role in helping the Kansas City area take advantage of its entrepreneurial assets. In 2011, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce identified one of its “Big 5” goals as making Kansas City America’s most entrepreneurial city.
“Smaller entrepreneurial enterprises that are founded right here in our community stay, grow and absolutely contribute to the economic health of this community,” said Peter deSilva, COO of UMB Financial Corp. and leader of the Big 5 effort around entrepreneurship. “With this support, we have the opportunity to strengthen the resources and environment for the startups that fuel economic growth.”
Since the “Big 5” goals were announced, several studies have been initiated to assess and plan the region’s future growth. These included a series of focus groups by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; AdvanceKC, a strategic planning initiative of the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Mo.; a Kansas City, Mo. city council-led initiative to define small business needs for the community; and two studies funded by the Kauffman Foundation that examined the area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. These studies highlighted strengths and gaps in the region’s entrepreneurship support, and helped define the scope of work for the University Center Program.
The University Center Program will expand the work of KCSourceLink, the premiere small business resource in Kansas City. KCSourceLink is a program within the UMKC Innovation Center. Maria Meyers, director of the UMKC Innovation Center, views the grant as a way to propel the region forward for decades to come.
“People are realizing that entrepreneurs create jobs, and that having home grown businesses is good for the region. That’s why so many groups are jumping in to support the University Center Program. We all understand that entrepreneurship fuels a vibrant and dynamic business environment,” Meyers said.
The University Center Program is being supported by corporate contributions from: AMC Theatres, American Century, Black & Veatch, Burns & McDonnell, Cerner Corporation, DST Systems, Hall Family Foundation, H&R Block, The Illig Family Foundation, JE Dunn Construction, Kauffman Foundation, KCP&L, KC Southern, Sprint, and UMB Bank. The program will have an advisory and review board of organizations; KCSourceLink will manage daily operations.
KCSourceLink connects a network of more than 200 business-building organizations in the 18-county Kansas City region to the aspiring and existing business owners that need their services. The mission is to help small businesses grow and prosper by providing easy access to needed services. Entrepreneurs and business owners can access the entire network atwww.kcsourcelink.com
About the UMKC Innovation Center
From whiteboard to boardroom, the UMKC Innovation Center partners with the university and the community to spark entrepreneurial efforts within our region and across the country. With a suite of high-impact programs, the center helps emerging and existing business owners hone their business basics, evaluate commercialization opportunities, and connect with the right resources at the right time. Innovation Center programs include the Small Business & Technology Development Center, Procurement Technical Assistance Center, U.S.SourceLink, KCSourceLink, Artist INC KC, andMOSourceLink.
About the University of Missouri-Kansas City
The University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students, and celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2013. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit www.umkc.edu. You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us onYouTube.
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