Editor’s note: Startland News is a program of STARTLAND, an ecosystem-building organization that is among the participants in an informal coalition of entrepreneur support groups hoping to increase funding for small business support in the 2020-2021 Kansas City, Missouri, budget. This story was produced independently by Startland News’ nonprofit newsroom.
Responding to sharp criticism of proposed cuts within KCMO’s $1.7 billion budget, Mayor Quinton Lucas late Friday afternoon tweeted a list of revisions — including a transfer of $25,000 in funding from one entrepreneur support group to another.
“I’m confident these changes advance our shared goal of adopting the most equitable budget in KC history while maintaining our proposed balanced budget,” Lucas said in his tweet.
Click here for the full budget revisions document.
The proposed budget initially came under fire from the small business community because of a 55-percent loss in 2021 funding for entrepreneur support organizations — from $550,000 in the 2020 budget to $250,000, based on figures supplied by KCMO, as well as previous reporting.
Click here to read more about data released Friday by KCSourceLink to show the city’s return on investment with entrepreneur support.
Lucas’ originally submitted budget also eliminates $300,000 for the Keystone innovation district, previously described by the city as “a $1.5 million four-year plan to implement an entrepreneurial business accelerator through the creation of co-working spaces, partnering businesses with education, and strengthening existing business in Kansas City.”
The revisions announced Friday would shift $25,000 to KCSourceLink from KC BizCare, the city’s business customer service center, which assists new entrepreneurs with the process of starting a business.
Leaders from KC BizCare have been part of an informal coalition of entrepreneur support groups in recent weeks that have been organizing in protest of cuts to KCSourceLink, LaunchKC and entrepreneurship in general. Members of the coalition planned to present new data in opposition to the original budget plan Saturday morning during one of the final two Speakeasy Sessions serving as public hearings on the budget.
Click here to read more about the potential impact of the proposed budget and how entrepreneur groups are rallying to reinstate funding.
“Not a good look,” posted Dan Smith, co-founder of The Porter House KC and among the ecosystem builders hoping for greater KCMO investment in entrepreneurs, responding on Instagram to the $25,000 funding shuffle.
Like The Porter House KC, both KCSourceLink and KC BizCare serve early stage entrepreneurs — a significant portion of whom are members of Kansas City’s low income and minority populations.
Detailed at the bottom of a list of five revisions, the KCSourceLink change followed other budget moves to add funding back to the KC Film Commission, as well as youth violence prevention efforts led by ArtsTech, Children’s Mercy Kansas City, and HireKC.
“This is a step forward, but not nearly enough to support small business in KC,” tweeted Gerald Smith, founder of Plexpod. “We must invest significantly more into local entrepreneurial resource organizations in order to claim the title of #MostEntrepreneurialCityInAmerica. #pleasereconsider”
“Any $ to violence prevention (measure that it works) and [Children’s Mercy hospital] are winners,” added Lesa Mitchell, Techstars Kansas City managing director, in a tweet.
The final two budget-related Speakeasy Sessions are set for:
- 9 a.m. — Saturday, Feb. 29 — Southeast Community Center, 4201 E. 63rd St., Kansas City, MO 64130
- 11:30 a.m. — Tuesday, March 3 — KC Health Department, 2400 Troost Ave., Kansas City, MO 64108