KC Rising: We Have Our Work Cut Out


In a building filled with masterpieces, hundreds of business leaders gathered to brainstorm on their own work in progress:  Kansas City.  Packed inside the Atkins Auditorium inside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, leaders from across the city and across all industry listened to some harsh truths about where we stand.  Paul Tiedt, the VP of Client Insights of Service Management Group, delivered the news that among our peer cities, Kansas City is second to last when it comes to retaining and attracting top talent.  That means in just three years of tracking the metrics Kansas City has dropped 15 or so spots from its initial ranking.  KC is losing out to cities like Nashville, Charlotte, Memphis, San Antonio and Seattle.  

Although that news may seem dire, it hasn’t deterred the work of co-chair John Murphy.  “In the short term, one of the things that’s happening right now is we have Team KC which is a talent recruitment function from KCADC that’s one of our four business partners.  About a month ago, they had a training camp and they expected about 150 HR recruitment professionals.  They had about 350 people show up.  Basically from every major company, mid-size companies, small companies, the whole continuum of businesses across the Kansas City region.  And I think what that showed is that this region recognizes that talent attraction and retention is critical and we are going to get something done.”

Fellow co-chair Sandy Price saw the meeting itself as a huge step for Kansas City moving forward.  In the intro for the presentation, co-chair Bill Gautreaux commented that just a year ago they held the meeting in a much smaller venue with probably 100-200 people in attendance.  The growth to about 400 business leaders getting involved in just one year’s time is proof to Price that KC is on the verge of something big.  “We are excited that so many people love Kansas City,” said Price,  “and that so many people want to be in KC and contribute.  The fact that hundreds of leaders,  civic leaders, community leaders, business leaders, not for profit leaders, have aligned themselves regionally to say we can become a top ten city amongst our peers and we are capable of doing more and being more, that is so so energizing.”

Although Kansas City does have its work cut out for them, the KC Rising metrics do show some really positive things happening in some industries.  According to their stats, the KC region ranks among the top ten for employment in engineering and architecture as well as the life sciences.  You may remember the January issue of Ingram’s discussing the industry outlook for construction where they outlined their own struggles for attracting top talent.  While the city is home to some of the best firms, it’s not easy to keep those talented people around.  “We still have quite a bit of work to do to make sure that we have a pipeline of workforce development that supports design, build and life sciences,” said co-chair Bill Gautreaux.

The encouraging part of the meeting was that the leaders on the stage and in the auditorium chairs didn’t seem fazed by the bad numbers and didn’t seem too high on the good ones.  There was a sense of dedication and a willingness to work that permeated the room.  Like Murphy says, that’s just what Kansas Citians do.  

For more information about how you can get involved, just check out KC Rising’s website.