A roundtable discussion this week with Vice President Kamala Harris gave Kemet Coleman an opportunity to put his city, and specifically the 18th and Vine neighborhood, on an elevated platform, the Kansas City entrepreneur and musician said.
Coleman — one of three co-founders of the soon-to-be-opened Vine Street Brewing, Missouri’s first Black-owned brewery — represented Kansas City in a conversation focused on entrepreneurship in communities of color. He was selected on the recommendation of KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas.
“I think my main takeaway was just representing Kansas City, and especially 18th and Vine, and putting 18th and Vine on a national stage,” Coleman said. “The neighborhood has so much potential — just like Beale Street, the French Quarter, and Harlem — and I think the country is curious about it as well.”
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Harris and her staff shared their excitement about Vine Street Brewing, which Coleman described as “mind-blowing,” and left him speechless.
“I literally just said, ‘What?’” he recalled. “I was just so shocked. I wasn’t expecting them to know who we are.”
The whole experience was wild, Coleman said, adding that being in Washington D.C., and specifically inside the White House, instilled within him a sense of awe and pride.
“Sometimes you forget that and feel disconnected,” Coleman acknowledged. “This country obviously has issues, but being there and being amongst the folks who are working to make sure the government runs was really cool.”
During the roundtable discussion, Coleman said, he and the other invited guests shared their entrepreneurial successes and failures, and the reasons behind those, with the vice president and other government officials.
Access to capital and how to effectively scale a company were also key topics of discussion, Coleman said, adding that the invited entrepreneurs also had an opportunity to network among themselves.
“It was a great opportunity to make connections at a federal level, and I made some really, really good connections there,” he shared.
The whole week has been a whirlwind for Coleman, who said he received a text from Mayor Lucas on Saturday asking if he would be interested in representing Kansas City.
“Honestly, I didn’t really believe the text,” Coleman admitted. “I thought it must have been somebody pranking me.”
Eventually, he realized this offer was indeed the real deal, since the texts came from the same number Coleman has used to communicate with Lucas in the past; the two have known each other since sixth grade, he said.
Coleman then received full details in an email from the White House on Sunday and booked a last-minute flight to Washington D.C. for Monday, which he said was well worth it.
“I had to scramble to make it happen, but I got invited to the White House, so of course I had to make it happen,” Coleman said.
Simply being selected by Lucas was an honor, Coleman said, noting how many deserving people could represent Kansas City.
Now, Coleman plans to build off the momentum of his White House visit to keep representing Kansas City and 18th and Vine.
“This trip was a great advancement [of that mission] because it was on a national stage,” Coleman said. “If you search ‘Vine Street Brewing,’ and ‘the White House,’ there is a match now, so that’s something I’m proud about. I want to continue to push 18th and Vine, as well as Kansas City, everywhere I go.”
A veteran hip hop artist in Kansas City, Coleman released his latest album Duality April 21.