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 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." In 2010, 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 last June and commemorated by a 10-day celebration of entrepreneurs. "We wanted to make a thorough inventory