As a GCUC participant for the last few years it seemed strange to have attended SXSW without starting with a coworking hangover! This year GCUC has changed months and moved to Kansas City, leaving some folks wondering, “Why KC?”
Being a native midwesterner, and admitted lover of Kansas City, I thought I’d try to answer a few of the questions that have popped up.
Is Kansas City in Kansas or Missouri?
Actually, its both. GCUC will technically be on the Missouri side, but you’d never notice the difference. “State Line” road runs right thru the city where gas prices can be Lower on one side of the street and you can buy a 6-pack on Sundays on the other.
Ok, but why Kansas city?
While the State of Kansas can get a bad rep for being a bit…let’s just say “old fashioned”…there is no doubt however the city of Kansas City is a world class, progressive city. It is currently experiencing one of the fastest growing startup booms anywhere in the world. Supported by amazing large companies and not-for-profit backers, the creative energy, innovative spirit, and drive to make their city great is palpable. Kansas City is a creative oasis for the heartland that has been a beacon for creative spirits since the very beginning.
The city has a history of innovation ever since it’s days as a major railroad crossroads with hundred of early entrepreneurs supporting trade, commerce, and furthering westward expansion. Later this midwest melting pot boiled into a legendary Jazz scene rivaling Chicago and New Orleans. More recently, Kansas City has undergone a revitalization bringing back that free entrepreneurial and creative spirit fueled by a midwest work ethic that has lead to some of the best loved brands and fascinating startups.
I’ve heard more than one entrepreneur in Kansas City say, “we don’t want to be the next Silicon Valley, we want to be Kansas City and want cities to try to be the next us.”
Google Fiber, really?
Yes really, Kansas city was the first Google Fiber city. with 1 Gig up and down, some really exciting companies and groups like TechStars have followed the fiber.
What’s there to do?
Of course! There are several independent spots that will be highlighted on the coworking tour. Even locally based Sprint now has a coworking space that offers a portion free to the entire community.
Any other businesses based here?
A surprising number of companies we all know well including: Sprint, AMC, Kauffman Foundation, Hallmark Greetings, H&R Block, Cerner, Applebee’s, and several large banking and financial institutions.
Where to visit (when not coworking)?
Known as “The city of fountains,” Kansas City is said to have more fountains than Rome! These 50+ exquisite fountains highlight the 100-200 year old architectural treasures in this meticulously planned city.
The new Power and Light district is a great example of successful urban/industrial redevelopment into a tourist attracting entertainment district.
The Plaza has long been known for world class shopping. Stores include big name designers to local boutiques.
18th and Vine. This famous intersection in the historic African American neighborhood is once again vibrant and thriving. It is anchored by the American Jazz Museum and the Negro League Baseball Museum/Hall of Fame.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Even the building itself has been named, “one of the top 10 new architectural Marvels on the planet” and is impressive to see at night.
Ok, most important, where’s the best BBQ?
Kansas is famous for it’s BBQ, trumping North Carolina, Texas, and even Memphis. Mostly seeking beef brisket and signature sweet sauce, everybody in KC has their favorite. They might argue with my list, but they’d be wrong. In descending order: Arthur Bryant’s, Oklahoma Joe’s, Gate’s, Jack Stacks, and then, if you must KC masterpiece.
KC Royals (MLB), play at home 5/1-5/4
KC Sporting (MLS), play at home 5/4
KC Chiefs (NFL), sorry not in season yet.
Ok, I’m in! but how will I find my way around? oh yeah, Garmin is based there too…
See you all in Kansas City!