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Regional Prosperity

Prosperity at a Crossroads —  Targeting Drivers of Economic Growth in Greater Kansas City

Download the executive summary (PDF)

Download the full report (PDF)

Download the 18th Annual Regional Assembly keynote speaker's presentation (PDF)

Published by the Mid-America Regional Council and the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program with funding support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the William T. Kemper Foundation.

Several years ago, a number of business, civic and community leaders raised the need for a more informed discussion about the economic future of Greater Kansas City. This included the desire for more sound research and rigorous analysis that can help residents and decision-makers alike better understand the economic performance of the region and begin a discussion about the future direction of the region’s economy. This report demonstrates the value of such an approach. It contains four key findings.

  1. Greater Kansas City, like other U.S. metropolitan areas, is confronting global and political forces that require renewed attention on the core drivers of economic growth and prosperity.
  2. Overall, Greater Kansas City’s economy has held steady, but there are troubling indicators in the region’s productivity and competitiveness.
  3. While Greater Kansas City exhibits strengths in the key drivers of growth and productivity, the region’s overall economic engine is not fueling high performance.
  4. Greater Kansas City’s leaders now face an important opportunity to more strategically bolster its drivers of economic growth so the region can compete and prosper, generating lasting opportunity for all.

Kansas City now stands at a crossroads.

The region’s economy has been reliable, predictable and steady. But over the last decade, we have seen our competitive advantage slip as we face new global economic forces. The region has a strong base to build on — not only industry, but also civic capacity to steer our economy in the direction of continued prosperity and resiliency. With a clear understanding of the framework for regional prosperity and the fundamental drivers and enablers of the regional economy, we can work together to position the Kansas City region for continued prosperity.

Related work

KC Rising

KC Rising is a sustainable 20-year+ vision that is regional in focus, but global in perspective. When KC Rising is successful, our region will benefit through the creation of: a regional ecosystem that allows individual companies to increase their traded goods and services; a cycle of prosperity where each industry is dependent on the success of the other; insurance that the KC region continues to be a place of choice to live and do business; and, today’s business leadership focused on the next generation’s opportunities and successes. More about KCRising»


January 2015
New research on global recession recovery, published by the Brookings Institution in January 2015 — “With only 20 percent of the population, the world’s 300 largest metropolitan economies accounted for nearly half of global output in 2014. This interactive and report compare growth patterns in the world’s 300 largest metro economies on two key economic indicators—annualized growth rate of real GDP per capita and annualized growth rate of employment. These indicators, which are combined into an economic performance index on which metro areas are ranked, matter because they reflect the importance that people and policymakers attach to achieving rising incomes and standards of living and generating widespread labor market opportunity.”

June 2014
Elizabeth Kneebone, Brookings Institution Fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, presented to an audience of over 70 suburban officials and agency staff on the issue of suburban poverty. The presentation was sponsored by the First Suburbs Coalition, the Truman Heartland Community Foundation, and MARC. Earlier in the day, Ms. Kneebone spoke to a human services summit in Johnson County sponsored by United Community Services of Johnson County, who arranged to bring her to Kansas City. Conversation included how agencies and communities could develop local collaboratives to address the issue of suburban poverty. Ms. Kneebone’s slide deck can be viewed online»