Kansas City continues to grow its reputation as a hotspot for entrepreneurs, with a growing ecosystem of expertise and support to help launch and grow the companies of tomorrow. It’s something that Kansas City can be proud of and leverage as our economy moves into the future.
Ask the hard question of how diverse and inclusive the entrepreneurial ecosystem is, though, and you’ll see our gaps. According to “Research Report on Engagement to Increase the Inclusion of Minorities in KC Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” presented to the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City (EDCKC) board by Wayne Threatt, Managing Principal of WBT Strategy Consulting LLC, we’re not the leader we strive to be when it comes to minority inclusion in entrepreneurship. In fact, despite our dedicated programs, we lag behind our peer cities and national rankings when it comes to the diversity of our entrepreneurs.
With a focused, one-day discussion at Techweek, the EDCKC hopes to better coordinate and focus the various community efforts toward stronger outcomes. While Kansas City can claim decent minority participation in its programs, voices from diverse communities are not as engaged as they need to be. The programs are there but aren’t as strong and coordinated as they could be.
In short: Kansas City can do better.
That’s why the EDCKC is bringing the issue to what is arguably Kansas City’s biggest stage for tech and entrepreneurship: Techweek Kansas City. The weeklong conference from October 8 – 12 explores the hottest issues and opportunities in tech and attracts a national audience.
A full day of programming dedicated to diversity and inclusion in technology entrepreneurship lands on Wednesday, October 10. This special series of presenters and panels brings perspectives both from Kansas City and best practices from other communities
Here are some of the themes on the agenda for this special day:
- An introduction to the economic and policy environment
- How to build a minority entrepreneurship ecosystem
- Preparing the next generation for tech careers
- Accessing capital
- Personal testimonials from diverse startup founders
Among the over twenty featured guests for the day are Rodney Sampson, ecosystem builder and chairman of The Opportunity Hub entrepreneurship center in Atlanta; Dell Gines, Community Development Advisor from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City; Kimberly Bryant, Founder of Black Girls Code; and tech journalist and social entrepreneur Sherrell Dorsey.
See the full agenda.
Not only can Kansas City do a better job of being an inclusive ecosystem. We must do better. Our economic competitiveness depends on it.
EDCKC senior vice president of business development, Drew Solomon was quoted in Startland News coverage of the track, outlining why inclusivity is both the right thing to do and vital to providing the workforce tomorrow’s employers will demand.
The day of dedicated programming ends with a panel discussing the next steps in bridging the gaps in inclusivity in Kansas City. The hope is that this is the start of a conversation that grows into building the institutional support that will carry this mission forward.
Be part of that movement as it starts. Get your tickets to Techweek and join the conversation on Wednesday, October 10. Use the code “LaunchKC” for 25 percent off your ticket price.