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Grant plus matching funds allow KCSourceLink to continue boosting entrepreneurship

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KCSourceLink, a program of the Innovation Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has earned a large grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to continue its work building the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration grant will allow KCSourceLink to continue its work as a University Center Economic Development Program to spur entrepreneurship, economic growth and job creation. KCSourceLink received its first University Center Program grant in 2013.

“KCSourceLink and the University of Missouri–Kansas City have made great strides to cultivate an environment where entrepreneurship can flourish and entrepreneurs can pursue their dreams,” said Angie Martinez, regional director of the EDA. “The EDA is proud to once again partner with KCSourceLink to make resources more visible and accessible for all entrepreneurs and to deliver such strong outcomes for the Kansas City economy and community.”

The grant is for $162,500, renewable each year for five years, pending performance. In addition, KCSourceLink has secured matching funds from companies including Burns & McDonnell, Black & Veatch, JE Dunn Construction and KCP&L among others, as well as foundations including The Illig Family Foundation, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundations, Regnier Family Foundation and more.

Deliverables from previous grant

For the past five years, KCSourceLink’s University Center Program has used university assets to support young firms that create jobs by connecting them to just-in-time resources to start and grow business in Kansas City.

KCSourceLink will continue to build on its programs, partnerships and progress toward making Kansas City America’s most entrepreneurial city, a community goal framed in 2011 by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

In 2012, with its first University Center Program grant, KCSourceLink developed a series of metrics to measure the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region in six key areas: 1) access to capital, 2) corporate engagement, 3) talent, 4) pipeline of opportunity, 5) awareness of Kansas City as a region for entrepreneurship and 6) technical resources.

Research completed in 2016 revealed that Kansas City has made measurable progress in finding capital for its early-stage companies and raising the awareness of the KC entrepreneurial ecosystem.

But the research also found that corporate engagement still remains weak. To address this gap, KCSourceLink will work with local corporations to define and implement interventions that draw corporations and entrepreneurs together, creating access to industry research, investment, customer acquisition, connections and expertise, leading to jobs for the community.

“The UMKC Innovation Center and KCSourceLink play a leading role in the region’s initiative to advance entrepreneurship and drive innovation in Kansas City,” said UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal. “We are pleased to have the support of the Economic Development Administration and our local private-sector corporate partners to provide additional support to our entrepreneurs who create new ideas, businesses and jobs in our community.”

Goals for next five years

Over the next five years, KCSourceLink will focus on building regional collaborations with university, government, community and business leaders to further identify and fill gaps in Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

KCSourceLink’s previous work increased available capital, advancing its mission to establish Kansas City as a financial hub for entrepreneurs. Identifying gaps has helped KCSourceLink create an action plan and collaborations to increase corporate engagement in KC entrepreneurship.

KCSourceLink will continue to build inclusivity and assist every entrepreneur at any stage of business. To that effort, it will support distressed areas of the community to create economic mobility through access to funding, knowledge and resources.

“Our goal is to strengthen the fundamental building blocks of a prosperous and innovation-centric economy by building better connections between entrepreneurs, resources, capital, talent and the greater KC community,” said Maria Meyers, founder of KCSourceLink, executive director of the UMKC Innovation Center and vice provost of economic development at UMKC. “We know entrepreneurship doesn’t just add value to our society by way of startups, innovations and jobs. For many, it’s a path to economic independence, hope and prosperity.”

With the new grant award, KCSourceLink has unveiled a refreshed website with a more streamlined user experience for doers, makers, creators and entrepreneurs eager to find the resources they need to start and grow businesses in Kansas City.

At, aspiring and established entrepreneurs can access a smart database of resources for their industry and challenge; review and download entrepreneurial guides for starting, growing and funding business in Kansas City; and get inspired by the journeys of other KC entrepreneurs.