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Kansas City Is 'Middle Of The Pack' In Entrepreneurship Nationwide

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Small businesses have an increasing chance at surviving their first 5 years in Kansas City, but overall business ownership hasn't increased, according to a new report from the Kauffman Foundation

The Main Street Entrepreneurship Indexmeasures established small business activity — that’s businesses five years and older, with fewer than 50 employees. 

Firms in Kansas City have about a 47 percent chance of staying in business through five years. That's up 2 percent over last year.

Other than that small increase in survival rate, Kansas City's numbers were not too exciting. 

Compared to the country's 40 largest metro areas, Kansas City came in at 23, the same ranking as last year. 

The rate of business owners — that is, the percent of the adult population that owns a business as their main job — remained steady around 6 percent.

The density of small, established businesses in the area has been growing over the last several years, but it saw a slight decline this year. 

Not too much to brag about, for a metro area whose city leaders like to boast about their dedication to entrepreneurship. 


Still, Kauffman Foundation policy Director Jason Wiens says those numbers only represent a small piece of the pie. 

"We have other reports that look at the act of starting a business as well as growing businesses, and Kansas City does pretty well in those," Wiens says. "In fact, we rank highest among these three reports in startup activity or new business creation and I think that's an especially good sign because you can't grow or maintain what you don't start." 

The metro has seen an increase in Latino entrepreneurs over the last few years, although the majority of business owners are still white and male. That's something Wiens thinks we should focus on.  

“Women in Kansas City continue to be less likely than men to be business owners, and while Latino entrepreneurship is increasing in Kansas City, we still have lower rates of entrepreneurship among African Americans,” he says.

Another trend Wiens noticed is that more people between the ages of 35 and 44 are running small businesses. That runs counter to the popular idea that entrepreneurs are generally younger. In fact, 20 to 34 year olds represented the smallest percentage of business owners. 

Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
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