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Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Astry Sosa has a good job at Prier Products, a manufacturer of plumbing products, but she’s the first to admit that she’s never been able to save money.

“I could just never seem to make it stay in a single place, you know?” she says with a laugh. “I’d always talk myself into ‘Oh well, what’s $20 on something?’’”

So when the 25-year-old Sosa took over payments on a pickup truck her parents owned, it was tough.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

A small city in Kansas is determined to prove The Onion wrong.

Folks in Emporia, Kansas, weren’t laughing when the satirical paper named it “best town to escape from” in 2017. In fact, the “brain drain” from rural areas has been a problem across the country for decades. Since 2000, Emporia's population has declined more than 7 percent. It's now home to 24,724 people.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Google Fiber says dozens of customers remain without home internet nearly two weeks after a major winter storm knocked out service for many across Kansas City. 

The company says technicians are "working night and day" to get subscribers back online, but many customers say they're fed up and that their trust in the Silicon Valley brand they once admired is gone.

"We're actively looking to switch providers," says Julie Gronquist-Blodgett. "Our experience now is counter to how I used to view Google."

Shinya Suzuki / Flickr

After operating in Kansas City for the past three months, Lime plans on removing its scooters from the area for the next few weeks.

In an email to Kansas City, Missouri, city officials on Tuesday, the electric scooter company announced it will temporarily suspend its service, citing winter weather conditions in December and January. The company also said it plans to analyze its operations and progress in Kansas City before returning in the spring.

Celisa Calacal / KCUR 89.3

Electric bikes will arrive on Kansas City’s streets in early December, joining the current fleet of electric scooters and ride sharing options available to residents.

Celisa Calacal / KCUR 89.3

Although hard numbers aren't available, anecdotal evidence and recent news accounts suggest that since Lime and Bird scooters arrived in Kansas City this summer, emergency rooms are seeing an increase in scooter-related injuries.

Kansas City joins other cities reporting an uptick in scooter-related injuries following the arrival of companies like Lime and Bird and their products' rising popularity.

More Electric Scooters Arrive In Kansas City

Sep 11, 2018
Celisa Calacal / KCUR 89.3

Lime electric scooters are ready to ride in Kansas City, as the company placed 250 of its electric scooters around the city today.

Lime scooters cost $1 to unlock and then 15 cents per minute of riding. Bird, another electric scooter company, arrived in Kansas City in July. According to a press release from the city, revenue sharing from Lime and Bird will be used to build and improve bike lanes.

Bird App

Just over a week after Kansas City officials reached an agreement with California-based company Bird Rides Inc. to allow up to 500 of their dockless, motorized scooters on city streets, a popular retail district has banned them.

Bird officials confirm the Country Club Plaza is now a “no-ride zone.” 

In an e-mailed statement, a Bird spokesperson tells KCUR that company officials are in touch with the city “and are working together to ensure Bird is operating in accordance with city guidelines.” 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Sometimes, spending time with family can change your life’s direction. That's what happened when one trip to Missouri rooted entrepreneur Faruk Capan, and his business, in the Midwest. 

Frank Morris / NPR and KCUR

It’s a time of low unemployment across the Midwest, leading to a labor shortage that’s stunting the growth of urban and rural businesses. Given that Donald Trump campaigned on a staunchly pro-business platform, one would think he’d have instituted policies benefiting everything from high-tech startups to huge dairy operations.

Creative Commons-Flickr / Nikonian Novice

Startups create thousands of new jobs each year in the Kansas City area. That's according to a new report released Wednesday by KCSourceLink. A program of UMKC's Innovation Center, KCSourceLink provides a network for area entrepreneurs. 

"We're talking retail, we're talking restaurants, we're talking small manufacturers, we're talking tech companies," says special projects manager Kate Hodel. "All of those are important to our Kansas City metro area."

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

The number of business start-ups has increased for the third consecutive year, according to the annual Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, and immigrant-owned businesses show strong growth.

The annual Kauffman Index, released Thursday, says first-generation immigrants make up 30 percent of all new U.S. entrepreneurs, reaching its highest level for just the second time in 20 years.

A recent study from the Brookings Institution suggests that the vast majority of our country's high-tech jobs are clustered in just a handful of cities. Local tech experts argue Kansas City, Missouri is on its way to the center of that cluster. 

Is Kansas City a tech hub? What factors are influencing the "rise of the rest" in our region?

Guests:

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Mike Farmer’s high-tech startup, Leap.It, caught the attention of AOL founder Steve Case in October 2014 because Farmer’s company was built in the first house hooked up with Google Fiber.

Case loved the irony of the David of Kansas City taking on the Goliath of Google.

“You’re undermining Google right here in the Start-Up Village in Kansas City,” Case said at the time. “On Google Fiber! That’s pretty cheeky!”

Farmer doesn’t remember the cheeky line, but the Google angle is “an interesting story line,” he said.

Courtesy ShotTracker

Kansas City entrepreneur Davyeon Ross just got the endorsement of a lifetime — from NBA legend Magic Johnson. 

Ross is the co-founder of ShotTracker, a basketball analytics startup and Johnson, along with former NBA commissioner David Stern and other investors, announced they're putting $5 million into the firm's latest product. 

"I grew up watching Magic play, so to be sitting in a conference room with him, and have that relationship is huge," Ross says.

A look at what's going on at this week's TechWeek conference in KC. Plus, an encore interview with the CEO of KC-based EyeVerify, which just sold for a lot of money (reportedly $100 million) to Alibaba.

Guests:

Just what is a “Smart City?” 

If you've been paying attention since Google rolled out its first-in-the-country high speed internet in the Kansas City area five years ago,  you're probably familiar with smart city technology.

As the city prepares to roll out the second phase of the project, we wanted to see wanted to see what's happened so far.

What we found  are a lot of questions from  citizens and even the project's promoters.

Downtown: The epicenter

Pexels / CC

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.

National startup activity has been dragging the last few years, but that is starting to change. We’ll learn how the country may finally be breaking free of the effects of the Great Recession. 

Guest:

Dan Verbeck / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is near the top of a list of cities that are growing advanced industry.

That’s the latest from The Brookings Institution – and good news after a 2014 report found some troubling economic indicators here in the metro.

There are two things a new business can’t do without: a great idea, and money. Lucky for us, Kansas City’s got a vibrant entrepreneurial community, but what about that second piece of the puzzle? We examine the availability and accessibility of start-up capital in the metro.

Guests:

Wikimedia Commons

Kansas City innovators will have an opportunity to develop business ideas in a new program for people who want to change the energy industry.

Digital Sandbox KC is partnering with GXP Investments, an area energy investor. They’re collaborating to create Energy Sandbox, which will help entrepreneurs take ideas, test their feasibility and develop prototypes.

For years, political polling told us who was  likely to vote and how, but the cell phone complicated all that. With fewer people answering — or even owning — land-line numbers, polls became less reliable. A Chicago start-up is changing that tradition, and finding success.

Guest:

KC Social Innovation Center

Three Kansas City startups will receive a combined $59,000 from the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund to expand and develop programs that promote innovation in the classroom.

KC Social Innovation Center, PlanIT Impact and  Pennez were awarded money for using Kansas City’s gigabit internet to create new ways to learn.

Through the centuries, technological advancements, from the tractor to developments in crop chemicals, have revolutionized the way we farm. Now, something new is disrupting the farming industry — and that’s big data. We take a look the new normal in one of America's oldest industries.

Guests:

thecollectivefunds.co

About a year ago, a group of Kansas City entrepreneurs noticed a troubling pattern — they were having the same conversations over and over again with their peers.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

A child care co-op. An eHarmony for high school mentors. An avatar that shows kids how the food they eat affects them.

On Friday, all of these were just ideas. By Sunday night, they’ll be reality.

Entrepreneurs from all over the region gathered this weekend to re-imagine the future of education by developing tools, apps, and educational resources — all in 54 hours.

LaunchKC

Entrepreneurs often say one of the hardest parts of getting a new business off the ground is raising enough capital to stay afloat in the initial lean years. 

Metro-based technology funder LaunchKC hopes to help bridge those early years for several startups with the latest version of a competition that's set to dole out $500,000 in funding this summer. The group began accepting applications for this year's startup grants competition Friday. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

When Jim McKelvey started his company Square in St. Louis, he noticed a big problem. 

Every time he would hire a new engineer, he would get an angry phone call from their previous company accusing him of stealing their best programmer. 

"By the time I got the fourth call, it was obvious that the only way we could grow our company was at the expense of other firms in town," McKelvey says.  

As heartbreaking as it was to leave his hometown, McKelvey and his co-founder closed their St. Louis office.

South By Southwest has a reputation for being on the cutting edge of technology and startup trends, and Kansas City had a strong showing at this year's Interactive festival.

Guest:

  • Bobby Burch is the editor-in-chief of Startland News. He attended this year's SXSW Interactive festival. 

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