Editor’s note: Startland News is showcasing six Kansas City changemakers from five local organizations in its inaugural Community Builders to Watch list. The following highlights one of the 2021 honorees, selected from more than 100 initial nominees by a panel of judges. Click here to view the full list of Community Builders to Watch — presented by Fishtech Group and supporting sponsors Plexpod, Google Fiber and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
People are the foundation of Kansas City’s future, Nia Richardson said, emphasizing the role the broad spectrum of KCMO’s small businesses and entrepreneurs will play in the years to come. As assistant to the director of small business and entrepreneurship at the KC Bizcare office — an agency within KCMO city government — Richardson herself plays a key part in giving young businesses the guidance, tools and support they need to get started.
Click here to find out more about KC Bizcare and its services.
Keep reading to learn how Richardson’s background shaped her into a woman ready to rebuild Kansas City through entrepreneurship.
QUESTION: Can you tell us more about yourself?
ANSWER: I am a mother of 3. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, graduate of Lincoln College Prep and proud eastside resident (born on Prospect).
I was raised by entrepreneurs, so I watched my parents build and run a business and I felt the impact of its ups and downs. The biggest up was the freedom it gave my parents — and to me, once I started working for them after returning home from college. I would not be at the city today without the education and opportunity my parents gave me through their small business.
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Q: When did you first realize your work was building community in Kansas City?
A: It’s in my blood. My parents raised me on the importance of building community: staying in place; building where you are; growing with your community. To this day, I still live on the same block I grew up on, the same community I fight for every day, with the same people I work every day to uplift. No matter what work I do, I build community.
Q: What is your hope for Kansas City’s tomorrow?
A: I am confident Kansas City can become the City of Entrepreneurs: the central hub for entrepreneurship at all levels. The new Start-UP Valley.
But my biggest hope is that tomorrow, my peers will help me re-build our communities on the eastside. I hope those I grew up with and around will come home, invest, and build wealth. I hope we can go from the most segregated city, to the most celebrated city for closing our racial divide and wealth gap. And we can do this through entrepreneurship.
Q: How can the community get involved with and support your work?
A: You can support my office by letting our city council, mayor and city manager know how great of a resource we are to the community, which helps keep us funded.
But most importantly you can get involved with the many business associations, chambers and programs that support our small businesses. Just as much as they need the funding, they need the talent and expertise to help our small businesses grow.
I can’t do what I do without them. And I do everything I can to back them.
Q: What do you want your legacy to be?
A: I want to be the woman who rebuilt this city.
Community Builders to Watch is presented by