What Key Players in KC’s Entrepreneur Ecosystem Uncovered During a Big Summer GatheringDavid Cawthon
In summer 2022, we had an amazing group of individuals — representing different sectors of the entrepreneurship community — come together at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City to share how impact and innovation can help us build a stronger, more inclusive entrepreneur ecosystem.
Here are some quick notes about what happened at the Connecting ESHIP Communities summit and key takeaways from the event that can help make Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem more inclusive.
The afternoon started with a keynote presentation from Dell Gines, lead community development advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Dell shared some insightful stories about entrepreneurial ecosystem building and dived deep on the work of impact and innovation as well as the growing need for us to continue to disrupt the status quo and build more accessible onramps and pathways into entrepreneurship and business ownership.
“Innovation is needed because there are systems that need to be disrupted.” – Dell Gines
We brought together an amazing group of people (Eileen Bobowski, Kara Lowe, Quest Moffat, Francisco Murguia Jr. and Tovah Tanner) for our impact panel. Each shared different experiences — from nonprofit, Main Street and tech — on how impact is created through his or her work. While the experiences were unique, each agreed that the greatest impact only comes when we are intentional.
After the panel discussion, attendees joined teams for the impact collision session. Each team collaborated to discuss the state of impact (What does impact look like?); creating impact (How do I know impact is being created?); and sustaining impact (What challenges do we face in delivering meaningful impact?). Common themes from teams included strengthening partnerships, telling good stories (of those served) and reporting innovative and transparent performance indicators.
“We are a web, and we are all connected. The more connected we are, the tighter we are.” – Women of Power
Later in the afternoon, another outstanding group of individuals (Verónica Alvidrez, Phyllis Hardwick, Maria Meyers, Miles Sandler and Rick Usher) joined our innovation panel. Each shared how innovation requires taking risks — in policy, digital inclusion, community development and education — to do those things that change the status quo.
“To move a good idea forward, you need to know the roles: who is the innovator, the doubter, who can move it forward. If you have focus, the right players, you can carry that momentum to the end.” – Miles Sandler
After the innovation panel discussion, teams again assembled to share ideas on the state of innovation (What does innovation look like?); creating impact (How do I know innovation is being created?); and sustaining impact (What challenges do we face in delivering innovation?). Many noted that innovation meant taking risks, being more efficient and embracing discomfort.
“Keep that tolerance for discomfort we had in COVID-19 when we didn’t have a choice.” – Higher Impact
In our very first planning meeting for this event, our team asked ourselves a simple question: What does a win look like?
We left that first meeting with these hopeful “wins”:
- Shift the mindset of key actors in the ecosystem to be more favorable and connected to the ecosystem.
Get key players to the event.
Ensure that impact and innovation are key focal points.
Moving forward, let’s continue to connect with, learn more about and work with others in this space.
There is so much we can do as individuals but so much more that we can accomplish when we take a collective approach to ecosystem building.
Thanks again for all you do to help make KC an inclusive and equitable space for entrepreneurship.
-Chanté, Dan, Miranda and Michael
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