Lee's Summit Journal

Velocity and Bridge Space unite to inspire small businesses

As Lee’s Summit continues to build its reputation as a city of innovation within the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area, Bridge Space is a new resource designed to accelerate entrepreneurship and economic development in the community.
As Lee’s Summit continues to build its reputation as a city of innovation within the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area, Bridge Space is a new resource designed to accelerate entrepreneurship and economic development in the community. Courtesy photo

Two groups with a shared vision and commitment to entrepreneurship, Velocity Lee’s Summit and Bridge Space, are expanding horizons for new business growth in Lee’s Summit.

Founded in 2015, Velocity Lee’s Summit brings innovative programming, resources and events to area entrepreneurs and business owners with the aim of building long-term, sustainable economic growth in the community.

Bridge Space is an interactive coworking facility that provides space for entrepreneurs and start-ups. The space includes offices, conference rooms, a podcast recording studio and an event space where Velocity hosts its educational and other events.

Working to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in Lee’s Summit, these organization’s goals have dovetailed during the past year. While creating new opportunities for local entrepreneurs, both Velocity Lee’s Summit and Bridge Space have also been achieving their own success recently.

In late July, the Lee’s Summit City Council approved a measure to provide Velocity $145,000 in funding over the next two years to support the group’s initiatives. On Sept. 5, Bridge Space will celebrate the grand opening of its 14,000-square-foot space during a launch party and dedication.

With these milestones, both Velocity director Jon Cundiff and Bridge Space president and founder Ben Rao see a future filled with entrepreneurial possibilities for Lee’s Summit businesses.

“Velocity and Bridge Space are strategic partners,” Cundiff said. “We’re building an ecosystem dedicated to developing the entrepreneurial community in Lee’s Summit.”

Rao agreed.

“Our missions and visions overlap so well because we share a passionate vision for seeing entrepreneurs succeed,” he said.

“The synergy and excitement of the space is also an important element,” Rao added. “At Bridge Space, we all come together to innovate, learn, share and build a community for like-minded entrepreneurs.”

“This is a place where dreams and ideas can be fulfilled. Both start-ups and mature companies can find a shared environment for innovation, mutual success, support and advancement.”

The synergy and excitement generated by Velocity and Bridge Space is being echoed throughout the Lee’s Summit business community.

“We have the ability to take a startup and nurture it, and we’re all collaborating to achieve this goal,” Cundiff said. “So much of what we do is community-driven. We have a clear vision and mission and it’s easy for our partners to step on board.”

Numerous area partners are collaborating with Velocity and Bridge Space to ensure the entrepreneurial culture in Lee’s Summit succeeds. These groups include the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street, the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council, area schools and businesses and professional mentors.

“Entrepreneurs and startups are key in every community, including ours,” said Steff Hedenkamp, Bridge Space communication manager. “According to Forbes magazine, 70 percent of current job creation comes from startups and nearly half of the workforce will be self-employed contractors and freelancers by 2020.”

Also according to Forbes, nearly 14,000 coworking and shared office spaces were scattered across the United States in 2017. That number is expected to double by 2020, with nearly 4 million entrepreneurs and startup founders building their businesses in those spaces.

As Velocity and Bridge Space lay the foundation for Lee’s Summit entrepreneurs to engage and contribute to this thriving community, both Cundiff and Rao recognize they are building on a spirit of entrepreneurship deeply rooted in Kansas City’s business culture.

“There has been long-term focus on entrepreneurs in Kansas City,” Rao said. “We’ve been building this for a long time here.”

Cundiff noted that Kauffman has set the bar of excellence.

“As a city, and nationally, we can see the fruits of this labor. So many new business owners need a place to land, a place to start. We’re bringing them mentoring, workshops and networking, so they can take their ideas and reach their goals.”

Cundiff understands, firsthand, the value of this support for entrepreneurs.

“My wife and I started our business in 1987. We had an idea, and we had passion and drive. But, there wasn’t a community that could help us write a business plan or mentor us. The passion of our local entrepreneurs is so contagious ...

“If we can give them a little help to get started, that may be all it takes. We owe it to the people coming up.”

For more information on Velocity Lee’s Summit, visit www.velocityleessummit.org.

Additional information about Bridge Space, including their Sept. 5 launch, is available at https://bridgespace.us/