Leading Industries


New Pillars Rising | A rendering of the Three Trails Campus (below), now under construction by Cerner Corp. in south Kansas City, and destined to be the largest single source of employment in the region by 2025.

Agribusiness always has been and always will be a large part of Kansas City’s commercial identity. It’s the home of some of the biggest dairy, meat processing, food distribution and grain production and storage companies in the United States.

But the Kansas City metro region has grown in many other ways, as well.

Healthcare and life sciences research have developed a strong presence on the business landscape. The city boasts enough fine hospitals that they actually have to compete to keep their beds filled—a big plus for medical care consumers. The city has also seen a significant rise in companies conducting human, animal and plant research and commercialization.

In the tech sector, there are many up-and-com-ing companies making a name for themselves in Kansas City. These scrappy and innovative groups can find great motivation in the fact that two medical information giants make Kansas City their home and have plans to bring thousands of new workers to the area.

Being, as real estate agents quip, “equidistant to both coasts,” Kansas City has also provided great “curb appeal” for the logistics industry and logistics operations of major corporations. Interest runs so high that millions of square feet in industrial space is being built even before committed tenants have been lined up.

And all of this has been happening in addition to the diversity Kansas City boasted before these trends began.

Just look at the breadth of Kansas City’s construction industry; the range includes engineering firms, design groups and contractors.  Some say that Kansas City has more engineers per capita than any other city in the world. Two of America’s leading engineering firms, both operating globally, are headquartered in Kansas City. And the city is also well known as an architecture hub for sports stadiums and public buildings.

Manufacturing also has a strong presence in the Kansas City area. In recent years, two of America’s biggest automobile manufacturers have put some $2 billion into modernizing plants that have become highly productive inventory suppliers. Global leaders in greeting card, food production and other sectors are to be found in Kansas City, too.

Of course, being an urban center, there is also a significant public sector component to the Kansas City economy. Many federal departments have their regional headquarters in Kansas City, and each state in this two-state metro region is home to military installations, such as Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and the Army’s Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Taking into account state, municipal and local offices, the public sector provides a livelihood for some 40,000 workers in the region.

Other key industries are in architecture, particularly with stadium design and logistics.