KC entrepreneurs provide strong backbone to local workforce, report says

Businesses with 20 or fewer employees created 58 percent of all net new jobs in Kansas City between 2013 and 2017, according to KCSourceLink’s sixth annual state of entrepreneurship report released Friday. In total, 14,575 new jobs were created by first-time employers in the region in 2017.

Startups have been a big driving force in the Kansas City workforce, the We Create KC report found.

The report also found that, last year, 50 percent of the top venture-capital-funded Kansas City companies received a boost with early-stage investment programs launched after 2012.

“That high percentage shows us how important these early-stage investment programs are to our entrepreneurs and our ecosystem,” KCSourceLink Founder Maria Meyers said in a press release. “If our companies are to survive the ‘valley of death,’ the community needs to support these early-stage funders and help them continue to create a pipeline for entrepreneurial growth and investment.”

Since 2012, when studies showed Kansas City needed more capital and resources to foster startups, the funding environment has improved and has benefited startups as they gain traction and earn revenue, according to the report.

Organizations and individuals in the Kansas City area have worked to improve access to capital for local entrepreneurs, the report concluded. The pipeline for growth and later investment has been accelerated by organizations such as the Fountain Innovation Fund, Digital Sandbox KC, LEANLAB and LaunchKC.  

Health care and social assistance startups accounted for the biggest industry in the Kansas City-area startup scene in 2017. Professional, scientific and technical services came in at No. 2. Wholesale trade rounded out the top three.

The KCSourceLink report also indicated area tech startups dole out, on average, nearly $40,000 more per year to employees compared to the average annual wage in Kansas City. The average Kansas City startup wage is also higher than the average Kansas City wage, but not until about two years into the startup’s existence.

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