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Mayor unveils Launch KC, effort to attract and develop tech business

They didn’t shout it, per se, but Kansas City leaders took to a rooftop Monday to announce news about Launch KC, a new effort to attract tech entrepreneurs and companies to the Crossroads Arts District and Greater Downtown Kansas City.

Kansas City, Mo. mayor Sly James (left) and Mayors’ Bistate Innovations Team co-chairman Mike Burke led a contingent of officials who gathered for an afternoon press conference on the Barkley ad agency’s rooftop deck.

There, they unveiled a new plan to help Kansas City attract and develop tech talent and companies. The highlights of the proposed plan: 

  • A free broadband WiFi network for the Crossroads and downtown 
  • A data center in the area to fit the needs and price constraints of tech startups
  • Tax abatements and other financial incentives to make the area friendly to tech companies
  • Affordable office space available to tech startups (provided through a partnership with several Crossroads and downtown companies with available space)
  • A “tech lab” where companies can brainstorm, interact and collaborate as they build new technology

That plan was the fruit of months of conversations by the Launch KC task force, a group comprised of representatives from government, economic development, technology and business entities. 

RareWire CEO Kirk Hasenzahl is one of several startup representatives on the task force. Hasenzahl said in a phone call Monday that the Launch KC effort stemmed from a question posed months ago in response to the impending arrival of Google Fiber in Kansas City.

Said Hasenzahl: “It was basically built around the idea of, what if Joe from Cincinnati called up and said, ‘Hey, I’m really excited about Google (Fiber) coming to Kansas City, and I want to move my tech company to Kansas City. How can you help me?’

“They wanted to be able to have a plan and an answer for that.”

More specifics regarding each piece of Launch KC’s multi-pronged plan will be revealed in the coming weeks and months. Silicon Prairie News has contacted several parties involved in the effort and will have updates as more information becomes available.


Credits: Photo from Launch KC on Facebook.

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