How KCSourceLink and Its Resource Partners Are Moving the Needle on Economic DevelopmentDavid Cawthon
Economic development is a vital ingredient to move every community and region forward, and often the catalyst to spark economic growth comes from institutions within the community, like universities. The Economic Development Administration’s University Center program enables organizations within universities, like the University of Missouri – Kansas City Innovation Center, to build regional economic ecosystems that support innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship, resiliency and inclusiveness. Without this support this initiative of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, the UMKC Innovation Center couldn’t do what it does.
Here’s how programs like KCSourceLink at your UMKC Innovation Center help spur economic development in Kansas City and the region through research, connections and community.
A Network of Business Building Organizations
The KCSourceLink Resource Partner Network includes more than 240 nonprofit organizations that help small businesses start and grow (and we couldn’t do what we do without our Resource Partners). Explore all of these organizations in The Resource Navigator. KCSourceLink is the hub that links aspiring and seasoned small business owners to these organizations and offers a free Personal Action Plan, which outlines an entrepreneurs’ next steps and the experts who can help at no or low cost. We wrote more than 6,200 of these in the past four years.
From 2019 to 2022, we’ve helped entrepreneurs start 790 businesses, 264 of those from majority-minority ZIP codes. We’ve also helped nearly 8,500 entrepreneurs seeking assistance. Read more about these numbers in our latest impact report.
KCSourceLink also hosts the metro’s most-comprehensive business calendar that features dozens of events, classes, workshops, pitch competitions and more from our Resource Partners each month. We’ve hosted over 3,800 Resource Partner events on the calendar in the past four years.
Involving Corporations in Entrepreneurship
We Create Corporate Engagement revolves around five strategic exchanges to better connect corporations and small businesses (sponsorship; research and development; people, place and product; investment; and customer and vendor sourcing). Within this initiative, the CEO to CEO Challenge, a partnership with KC Rising and ConnectUs Worldwide, invites corporate leaders in the Kansas City metro to increase the number of small and diverse businesses that they use as suppliers; over two dozen corporations have taken the pledge. Through these efforts, KCSourceLink is hoping to create a stronger pipeline to leverage the power of corporations to fuel small business growth.
Measuring Entrepreneurs’ Impact
Did you know that entrepreneurs are job-creating powerhouses that fuel economic growth by creating an average of 16,413 jobs per year? Or that first-time employers who employed fewer than 20 employees created 19,849 new jobs in 2021, up 22% from 2020? In fact, these new and young firms contributed an average of 16,413 new jobs to the Kansas City metro area each year from 2017 to 2021.
You can read all about it in the latest We Create Jobs report, which quantifies the impact of new and young firms to Kansas City’s economy. Connecting the data from Kansas City with the existing theory pertaining to entrepreneurship is a positive step in supporting civic leaders in their quest to boost economic activity. This is one way KCSourceLink measures the impact of entrepreneurs in the Kansas City metro.