Kansas City, MO - Gov. Jay Nixon today visited the Sprint Accelerator to highlight the growing technology sectors of both Kansas City and the state of Missouri, and to announce more high-tech job creation and development in the city’s Crossroads Arts District.
The Governor announced that LaunchCode, a nationally-recognized program that helps close the tech talent gap, will receive an additional $250,000 from the Missouri Technology Corporation to expand its operations in the Crossroads. Gov. Nixon was also joined by Praful Saklani, founder and CEO of Pramata, a tech firm based in San Francisco, to announce Pramata’s decision to open a Midwest office and create 15 jobs in the district.
“Kansas City’s thriving business community and highly-educated workforce make it the ideal location for tech companies to locate and grow,” Gov. Nixon said. “The burgeoning technology scene here in Kansas City’s Crossroads is a big reason why Missouri is a nationally-recognized leader in high-tech jobs and innovation. By balancing budgets and making smart investments in education and entrepreneurship, we will continue to move Kansas City and the entire state forward.”
“The addition of LaunchCode and Pramata to the Crossroads Arts District further enriches Kansas City as a center of high-tech entrepreneurship and jobs,” said Kansas City Mayor Sly James. “It takes many partners to bring this kind of explosive growth, and we’re grateful to Missouri and Gov. Nixon for helping to make Kansas City one of the hottest start-up cities in the nation.”
LaunchCode was founded in 2013 by Square’s Jim McKelvey in St. Louis. Located at the Sprint Accelerator in the Crossroads Arts District, the new LaunchCode office is already in its first phase of development, and building relationships with Kansas City-based companies that have tech talent needs. To date, LaunchCode has partnered with several area businesses, including startup firms Blooom, Eye Verify and Venture 360. Computer education and skills training are expected to start this spring.
“We’re proud to have the Missouri Technology Corporation as our lead funder in Kansas City,” McKelvey said. “The Governor’s vision for innovation in Missouri has been critical to our success statewide, and will help us continue our mission of creating better lives and communities.”
“Kansas City offers a unique combination of a skilled talent pool along with a central location,” Saklani said. “It’s the ideal place to anchor our U.S. expansion and a fantastic base from which to serve our customers. We’re looking forward to being a member of and contributor to the local community.”
Pramata is the Customer Relationship Intelligence™ company, offering solutions that help large B2B (business to business) companies retain and grow their most complex, and most valuable, customer relationships. With customers throughout North America, its new Kansas City office will provide sales support and administrative functions for its offices located on both coasts.
To assist with Pramata’s expansion, Missouri has offered a strategic economic incentive package that the company can receive if it meets certain job creation criteria. The Missouri Partnership, the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Area Development Council also assisted the company with its expansion.
Gov. Nixon has made it a priority to grow and support the state’s IT sector, which was identified in Missouri’s strategic initiative for economic growth as an industry poised for expansion. In 2015, MTC also provided $250,000 through its MOBEC program for LaunchCode to start their apprenticeship and job-placement program in Kansas City.
Today’s announcement brings the total support from MTC for the LaunchCode Kansas City expansion to $500,000. In addition, in 2015, Gov. Nixon announced $604,600 in state support for the development of LaunchCode’s new Mentor Center in St. Louis, a learning and technology skills development hub targeted towards disadvantaged youth.
The Governor’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget includes an additional $10 million for programs administered by MTC, for a total of $28 million designated to growing the state’s innovative community and creating high-tech jobs. Since 2011, MTC has co-invested in 82 companies, which have in turn been able to leverage additional private investments of more than $280 million.
Recent census data showed Missouri led the nation in new business creation, growing by 16 percent from the previous year. In Fiscal Year 2015, Missouri ranked – for the first time – as a top ten state for startup funding, according to Forbes.
Home to one of the first Google fiber projects in the nation, Kansas City’s tech scene continues to attract businesses of all sizes. Over the years, it has been ranked as one of the top cities for women in tech (seedrankings.com), Best places for Tech Jobs (Nerd Wallet), and was recently named one of Business Insider’s top 10 fastest growing cities for startups. For the second year in a row, this September, Kansas City is set to host Techweek, the nation’s leading technology conference and festival that gathers industry heavyweights and emerging tech voices to showcase local innovations.