Small businesses have the potential to thrive in Kansas City in ways unlike other metros across the country, said Christine Lau, highlighting how the city’s unique spirit will play a role in a newly created Small Business Task Force for KCMO.
“We have a grit and tenacity that I haven’t seen anywhere else,” said Lau, employee experience director for Made in KC and one of seven appointees to the inaugural city group, which will be administered by the KC BizCare office.
Mayor Quinton Lucas announced the task force members Monday. The group’s origins date back to the spring when the city sought to address concerns raised by small business in the wake of the NFL Draft.
The task force appointees — from across the business and civic community — are charged with developing a preliminary and long-term strategic plan to provide necessary funding, programming, technical assistance, and other support services to foster an inclusive and equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“Kansas City’s small businesses are vital to our growing community and economy, but there are a number of barriers entrepreneurs continue to face when growing or starting their business, including access to funding and resources for support,” said Lucas. “To ensure our community and economy continue to grow and be successful, we must invest in the entrepreneur with a dream for a startup, or the small business owner who is struggling to make ends meet.”
“I am proud to appoint the Small Business Task Force to make it easier to grow businesses in our community and make Kansas City become the most small business-friendly city in America,” the mayor continued.
In addition to Lau, appointees to the task force include:
- Wes Rogers, chair, Second District councilman, KCMO
- Davin Gordon, program officer, Hall Family Foundation
- Thalia Cherry, CEO/founder of Cherry Co.
- Morgan Holecek, assistant to the city manager, KCMO
- Evan Absher, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
- Phyllis Hernandez, owner of Sala de Arte
Gordon — who previously served as director of business development at AltCap — said he was inspired to take on the task force role as an extension of that ecosystem-building work.
“I saw the various challenges entrepreneurs and small businesses faced with starting and growing a business in Kansas City,” said Gordon, who also is a board member for Startland, the nonprofit parent organization of which Startland News is a program. “I also appreciate and value the important role small businesses play in making communities vibrant, accessible, and connected.”
“Small businesses have the power to strengthen community and culture, connecting residents that may otherwise not have the opportunity to interact, and provides a pathway to economic mobility,” he continued.
Lau, who also is alumni and continuing education coordinator at UMKC, expressed optimism that her nearly-decade working within Kansas City small businesses would bring a well-rounded perspective to the group — furthering the goals of the task force through collaboration and shared learning.
That’s especially key, she said, as Kansas City “gears up to host events and people that we’ve never seen before.”
“I believe we can do a better job of connecting small business owners to resources to contribute to their growth and success! I always want people to love our city as much as we do, and so I hope that we can create an environment for that to happen.”
Click here to follow Christine Lau on Instagram.