Kansas City ranks as one of the most tech-centric cities in the country, report finds

Kansas City, with its educated workforce, growth in entrepreneurship and access to venture capital funding, earned a spot among the top tech cities in the nation.

In an inaugural report, issued last week, ranked KC 22nd out of 25 tech-centric markets. Silicon Valley, unsurprisingly, topped the list, which was compiled by the real estate service firm Cushman & Wakefield.

Ken McCarthy, a principal economist with the firm, said tech is integral to the modern economy.

“Basically every company today is a tech company in one way or another. We’re all using it, we’re using various aspects of tech companies to do various things,” McCarthy said. “Whether it’s Salesforce as customer relationship management, or Workday for HR, and various other database programs, the old way of doing business just doesn’t work anymore.”

The firm considered six factors for determining its ranking: institutions of higher learning (UMKC and William Jewell), capital, tech workers, knowledge workers, educated workers and growth in entrepreneurship.

Kansas City performed strongest in its pool of “knowledge” workers, which make up approximately 22 percent of the workforce here. That makes KC 19th out of the top 25 tech cities, ahead of New York City, Dallas and L.A.

Knowledge occupations comprise six broad categories of work, including architecture and engineering, education and health care.

KC ranked 18th for its share of tech workers (about 5 percent) in the workforce. All of the cities in this category were dwarfed by Silicon Valley, where tech workers make up more than 25 percent of the workforce.

Nationally, the number of tech workers is expected to reach 7 million in 2017, the highest totals since there were 6.9 million such workers in 2001.

With about 35 percent of its workforce holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, KC surpassed the national average by about five points.

Though it wasn’t mentioned in the report, Google Fiber has embraced the Kansas City market, rolling out its high-speed internet across the area. It’s helped KC achieve nationally recognized internet speeds. One report last summer found KC had the nation’s fastest average download speeds, at 135.39 megabits per second.

The U.S. as a country is speeding up, too. It cracked the top 10 list of countries with the fastest fixed internet speeds in 2017. Compared with this time last year, U.S. speeds are up 22 percent, according to Recode. South Korea, though slower than last year, maintained the fastest average fixed internet speed in the world.

There is still room for improvement here. Kansas City ranked second to last for its venture capital funding, which Cushman & Wakefield called the “key to the tech industry.” Kansas City had less than $1 billion in venture capital, and places like San Francisco, New York City and Silicon Valley topped $6 billion.

Max Londberg: 816-234-4378, @MaxLondberg

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