Kansas City will surprise you! It is alive, vibrant and growing!
Kansas City area is a boomtown when it comes to the tech industry, ranking third in the country for tech job growth in 2013, with a 3.8% increase in tech job openings. Kansas City has the fastest internet bandwidth on the earth thanks to Google Fiber. Google likes Kansas City, it was the first city out of 1,100 to be selected for their “fiberhood” network, which operates at 1 gigabyte per second. Kansas City stood out because the startup community is creative and robust. Being part of the Silicone Prairie allows Kansas City to be on the cutting edge of several emerging technologies and businesses. In addition, there is rich heritage and infrastructure to support entrepreneurs. Forbes magazine ranked Kansas City the 7th best downtown locale.
You’ve heard of Kansas City barbeque – slow and smoked style. Every time a US President visits, Kansas City barbeque finds it’s way to Air Force One. There are a wide variety of tastes and styles for foodies to try all around the city. Many James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards have been bestowed upon Kansas City honorees. Sidewalk cafes line every neighborhood and locally-owned restaurants are in abundance. Burgers at Westport Flea Market, Blanc Burger, and Winsteads. Pub fare at Beer Kitchen. Wings at The Peanut. Mexican at Margarita’s and Port Fonda. Pizza at Waldo Pizza and Minsky’s. Italian at Garozzo’s, Cascones, and Carmen’s Cafe. Steaks at Hereford House and Plaza III. Vegetarian cuisine at Cafe Gratitude and Eden Alley. Retro donuts at John’s Space Age Donuts and Lamars. The 5 Star 1960’s iconic American Restaurant designed by Warren Platner and updated by Jim Calcara overlooking the city. Fried chicken at Stroud’s. George Brett had his wedding reception at Stroud’s – It doesn’t get more Kansas City than that.
Travel + Leisure magazine rated Kansas City in the Top 10 sports-crazed cities. Kansas City knows how to party when it comes to sports. Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chiefs, is home to the loudest fans in professional sports and the finest tailgating anywhere. The Royals play in renovated Kauffman Stadium. Sporting KC plays soccer in the first European style soccer arena in the US. Kansas City has become a huge soccer town with Sporting KC and had one of the largest viewing audiences and outdoor parties of any US city during the World Cup, watching anxiously as two Sporting KC members played on the US team. The Kansas Speedway Nascar Track hosts the Sprint Cup. If college basketball and football is your love, then you are only two hours away from Mizzou, Kansas University, and Kansas State. The Sprint Center hosts the Big 12 basketball tournament each spring, which turns downtown Kansas City into the biggest party in a 5-state area.
Kansas City is very reasonable. It has one of the lowest costs of living in the country. Real estate enjoys a stable and affordable market. You can still get a movie ticket for less than ten bucks! You can still find a cup of coffee for a buck. And you can get a pair of Baldwin jeans and not have to go to New York City. The average yearly salary in Kansas City is $54,000 and when you factor in the cost of living, you’re going to be one happy Kansas Citian. Four of the world’s billionaires call Kansas City home, according to Forbes. Garmin Ltd. co-founders Min Kao at #704 worth $2.1 billion and Gary Burrell #1,107 worth $1.3 billion live right here in Kansas CIty. Neal Patterson, co-founder of Cerner Corp. weighed in at #1,031 with a net worth of $1.4 billion and Donald Hall, chairman of Hallmark Cards Inc., ranked #1,342 worth $1 billion, the cutoff point for the list. These billionaires could all be your neighbors here in Kansas City.
Forbes magazine calls Kansas City the “Zone of Sanity” because the diversity of businesses that feed the overall ecomony span a wide range of markets. Major players include H&R Block, Russell Stover Candies, health care leader Cerner, telecommunication giants Sprint and AT&T, engineering giants Black & Veatch and Burns & McDonnell, and creative giant Hallmark Cards. Kansas City has the third-largest stock exchange, multiple emerging alternative energy and technology leaders, and the worlds leading sports architecture firms of Populous and HOK. Kansas City has been ranked as a leading design city, one of the most intelligent mid-sized cities in the U.S., and is ranked as the #21 business incubator city worldwide, according to a survey of more than 300 incubators in 67 countries.
The neighborhood that the arts built – once-vacant warehouses, have made way for a bohemian neighborhood that you never would expect in this part of the country, the Crossroads. The art scene has always been very strong and anchored by the stalwarts of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, the Unicorn Theatre, the Kansas City Ballet, the Lyric Opera, and the Kansas City Symphony. Art abounds with the world renowned Nelson-Atkins Museum, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Kansas City Art Institute, and the University of Missouri at Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. The newest addition is the American Museum of Natural History – The Museum at Prairiefire. But the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Moshe Safdie, has garnered the most international press recently, featured in Conde Nast and Architectural Digest. The don’t miss Kansas City events include: First Fridays in the Crossroads, Starlight Theater, The Plaza Art Fair, The Fringe Festival, The Spinach Festival, any puppet show by StoneLion or Paul Mesner, Santa-Cali-Gon Days, and The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum at the 18th & Vine Jazz District. Kansas City is home to American Jazz music, so find your favorite jazz club and enjoy! You’ll be hard-pressed to run out of options!
With over 2.5 million people in the area, Kansas City somehow gets away with a smooth-flowing grid of highways. I had a client from Boston and he said “Bob, Kansas City doesn’t have rush hour, they have rush 15 minutes.” We are still a car culture but times are changing. Currently, the first leg of the Kansas City Downtown Streetcar is moving full speed ahead with installation. The two-mile line will run largely on Main Street from the River Market to Union Station. The area mass transit companies are also implementing a regional mass transit program that bridges the state line with rapid express buses and commuter rail.
A rich history of neighborhoods is the cornerstone of Kansas City. The developer J.C. Nichols built many of the classic early neighborhoods of the city. He built villages and surrounded them with trees, statues, fountains, and then planned the housing areas around them creating the neighborhood while protecting land values for all residents. Kansas City claims to have more fountains than any city in the world besides Rome. The County Club Plaza is the most famous neighborhood and often referred to as the “oceanfront property of Kansas City” because of the desirability and ever increasing property values. Many other “Hot Spots” have been built recently throughout the area, including the downtown Power & Light District, Zona Rosa, and Prairiefire. More than $9 billion is currently being invested in the Kansas City region, with more than $4 billion of that in downtown Kansas City alone.
Walk in any direction in Kansas City and you’re bound to hit a bar. Westport, The Plaza, Martini Corner, Brookside, Waldo, Power & Light, The Crossroads – the list goes on forever. Kansas City has had a long history with booze, as it was the only major city that sidestepped convictions related to the distribution or sale of alcohol during Prohibition. Jazz musicians were able to perform, play, drink, dance, and celebrate without interference. Edward R. Murrow said, “If you want to see some sin; forget Paris and go to Kansas City.” There is a cocktail renaissance creating the “next great cocktail city” due to the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival that calls Kansas City home. Kansas City is also home to the world’s largest pub crawl, the Crawl for Cancer, which takes place here in May. Kansas City’s very own microbrewery Boulevard Brewing Co., brews some of the best craft beers in the country, in additional to many, many local microbrewies.
When it comes to the Holidays, Kansas City goes big. The Plaza lighting ceremony is arguably the biggest public event in the city each year, lighting up the gorgeous Country Club Plaza. Malls and shopping centers have all-but gone away, but Kansas City’s premiere shopping district is still going strong after all these years. Constantly changing with high-end luxury shops and top notch bars and restaurants, the Country Club Plaza is one of America’s gems, named in the Project for Public Spaces‘ list of 60 of the World’s Great Places. The Plaza Art Fair in September is rated the 6th best art fair in the country. There’s nowhere else like it in the country.