Silicon Valley firm will open small office in Kansas City

Suitable Technologies, a videoconferencing company based in Silicon Valley, is opening its first office outside California in downtown Kansas City.

The announcement came Friday at the annual luncheon of the Kansas City Area Development Council. About 1,400 people attended the gathering at the Grand Ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center. The keynote speaker was Ron Insana, senior analyst at CNBC. Dan Hesse, chief executive officer of Sprint Corp., was honored with the OneKC Award.

Hesse told the audience Sprint continues to develop new products and is granted an average of more than two patents each business day.

“We’re helping build this city’s brand as an innovation center,” he said.

The Kansas City Area Development Council is a private, nonprofit organization charged with representing the economic interests of the two-state, 18-county Greater Kansas City region. Its co-chairmen are Jim Sangster, vice chairman of UMB Bank, and Mark Henderson, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Lockton Cos.

Over the last year, Bob Marcusse, president and CEO of the development council, said the organization had helped recruit companies that are pledging 1,800 new jobs with a $110 million payroll.

Suitable Technologies will occupy space at City Center Square and employ one person to start, although it’s already planning to hire several more, according to the development council.

“Suitable Technologies was initially attracted to the Kansas City market because of Google Fiber, but it was the impression the city made on the company decision-makers that sealed the deal,” Marcusse said.

The firm plans to build an international support center for what it calls the Beam, which enables users to communicate instantly to remote locations using videoconferencing technology over a Wi-Fi or cellular 4G LTE connection. Kansas City competed with Austin, Texas, for the center.

“We selected Kansas City because of its central location and access to technical talent from its 20 local universities,” Scott Hassan, Suitable Technologies CEO, said in a statement. “As our business continues to grow, we look forward to the opportunity to bring local talent on board.”

The development council also announced that Stason Pharmaceuticals plans to move its brand division from Irvine, Calif., to Kansas City, Kan. The firm moved its national headquarters for its animal health division to the area three months ago. It also has established a new operation, KC Specialty Therapeutics.

Insana told the audience the U.S. economy is in much better shape than critics suggest. He also praised Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, for his role in helping lead the nation out of the recession, describing him as a “national hero.”

The CNBC business journalist said a big driver of the economy was the boom in oil, coal and natural gas production, observing the country is now the world’s largest producer of natural gas and a carbon-based energy exporter. Projections call for the U.S. to be energy independent by 2020, Insana said.

Manufacturing also is up, with 16 million automobiles projected to be sold this year, close to the peak of 2007 before the recession. Cheaper energy also is bringing manufacturers back to the country, including the textile industry.

“The U.S. is in extraordinarily good shape, and people have missed what’s happening beneath the surface,” he said.