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Kansas City Tech Office Announces Finalists For Half Million Dollars In Grant Funding

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Twenty small businesses are finalists for $500,000 in public-private grant money to help the metro area nurture its tech and entrepreneurial environment.

LaunchKC, part of the city's economic development effort, will select 10 of the 20 finalists during Techweek in September.

Agriculture and health technology companies are heavily represented among the winners in the contest - only in it's second year.

But Drew Solomon, Senior Vice President for the Economic Development Council of Kansas City, says he's thrilled there were some 400 entries representing a wide variety of tech fields from cloud services to logistics to education.

"With the strength of the applicants," Solomon says, "we very easily could have picked any of our top 50 to be in the top 20. They were all that good."

Of the finalists, Solomon says 11 are from the KC area, seven from other states, one from Austria and one from Portugal. Each of the 10 winners will be awarded $50,000 in funding, a year's free office space in Kansas City as well as business consulting.

Solomon says the goal of the contest is to establish a sustainable local space for entrepreneurship and tech companies in this area, where historically it has been difficult for tech companies to grow.

“I think the important thing is we continue to create an environment in Kansas City from a talent, capital and resource perspective that they don’t feel they need to look elsewhere to be successful," Solomon says.

All 20 finalists will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas on the stage during  September's Techweek.

Laura Ziegler is a community engagement reporter for KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @laurazig or at lauraz@kcur.org.

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