Officials in the greater Kansas City area, which encompasses the two cities with the same name separated by a state line, are on a mission to make the city synonymous with entrepreneurism. They seem to be well on their way. Large companies that have made Kansas City their home include Sprint ( S), H&R Block ( HRB) and Hallmark. It also is home to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, with assets of $2 billion devoted to entrepreneurism and education. The foundation was established in 1966 by pharmaceutical entrepreneur Ewing Kauffman. Kauffman wanted the foundation to help young people get a quality education and recognize enterprise and individual talent as a way to spur the economy. As a result of the Kaufman history, "We feel like we have a particularly strong claim to that and we have the assets to make that a reality," says Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Jim Heeter. "This is a city that is built on entrepreneurism." Two years ago, the Chamber of Commerce reached out to the community to solicit ideas on how to better the city's community and create economic growth and jobs. After 182 ideas were submitted, the Chamber of Commerce announced in September 2011 the " Big 5 Ideas." Making Greater Kansas City the number one region in which to start and grow a business was third on the Big 5 list. To expand its entrepreneurial roots, the first phase of the Big 5 initiative was to bring awareness to the community of the overall initiative and to survey the community on what assets it already had and what was needed. This phase was completed in June and commemorated by a 10-day celebration of entrepreneurs. "We wanted to make a thorough inventory
Entrepreneurs are attracted to various cities and metropolitan areas for different reasons and to attain various goals. With its low-cost of living, family-friendly city, as well as strong local, state and federal tax incentives, among other benefits, Atlanta considers itself to rank among the cities with a strong offering for entrepreneurs looking for long-term success (as opposed to a short-term "build it and sell it" mentality in Silicon Valley, for instance. But that doesn't mean that the industries it considers sweet spots are slow-moving. Between health, technology, entertainment, mobile payments and mobile technology, logistics and strong research and development facilities at its many universities, business in Hot 'Lanta certainly isn't cooling off or slowing down soon. Invest Atlanta, the city's re-launched economic development authority was established in January to strengthen Atlanta's economy and global competitiveness by creating increased opportunity for Atlanta citizens. The research-based organization focuses on residential, business and investment growth in the city. According to its website, initiatives include developing partnerships between public entities and private companies to accelerate job creation, neighborhood revitalization and entrepreneurship through bond financing, revolving loan funds, housing financing, tax increment financing and tax credits. It also offers several business financing options for small businesses and entrepreneurs, including; a business improvement loan fund, the Phoenix Fund and the Opportunity Fund. "So what we really want is not only for people in Atlanta to be encouraged to start a business, but we also want people across the country
"Omaha probably is not as well-known as a lot of the other large to mid-sized cities out there," says David Brown, executive director of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. "We have this really interesting mix of businesses that work together that have a common vision to make this a great place for businesses." For instance, it is unusual to have a Fortune 500 CEO commiserate with a small print shop, but that's exactly what goes on in the Omaha business community, Brown says. "We realize we can be really successful creating big business as long as we pay attention now to the environment for creating small business. Our big businesses are some of our biggest supporters of the small business community," he says. Another strong benefit to Omaha is its strong economy -- one that surely helped it withstand the recession. "Our economy continued to grow during the recession.
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