Silicon Prairie News

Wall Street Journal highlights Kansas City as up-and-coming IT hub

Kansas City August 22, 2011 by Michael Stacy

A blossoming information technology scene helped put Kansas City on the map for a story in today's Wall Street Journal. Screenshot from online.wsj.com

The information technology community surrounding State Line Road got a nice tip of the hat today from a prominent publication on Wall Street.

story in today's Wall Street Journal on "Where the Action Is" highlighted Kansas City, with its burgeoning IT community, as one of seven up-and-coming industry hubs across the country. The story also featured Indianapolis (life sciences); San Antonio (cybersecurity); Albany, N.Y. (nanotechnology); Nashville, Tenn. (health care); Ogden, Utah (outdoor sports gear) and Asheville, N.C. (beer brewing).

"Entrepreneurs are moving there and flourishing in the teeth of a bleak economy," the WSJ story said of the seven cities. "The cities, in turn, are nurturing the entrepreneurs by giving them access to funding, mentors and facilities"

Of course, we at SPN were smitten with the story from the outset because it includes a phrase that's a fan favorite around these parts: "Welcome," it says in introducing Kansas City, "to 'Silicon Prairie.' "

Beyond using one of our favorite buzzwords, the article cited a five-percent increase in tech firms in Kansas City in 2009, a rate which trumped that of traditional tech hotbeds like Silicon Valley, Boston and Austin. The story credited established companies like Sprint Nextel Corp. and Cerner for some of KC's IT pedigree, but it also highlighted the work of newer firms. 

The Journal interviewed Bryan Richard, founder of iCode Inc., a web startup that posts profiles of software developers, and Donald Rossberg, president of Dataworks, a technology-support and consulting startup.

"Numerous times people have asked me for things I have expertise in and there are times where I call competitors…for specific problems," Rossberg said in the story. "In the end, we all benefit."

The article points out that the concentration of IT talent and ideas in Kansas City makes it a target for investors and government incentives and efforts. Anecdotally, we witnessed the former in a strong second quarter for venture capital funding of Kansas-based tech startups, and we most recently saw the latter in the announcement of the Bi-State Innovation Team that was launched to capitalize on the arrival of Google's ultra-high speed network.

A little positive pub in the WSJ can't hurt things, either. "All in all, these clusters can be ideal spots for an entrepreneur in the field," the story said. "Being there means getting access to a much wider range of suppliers, customers, employees and industry experts."

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