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Northland version of “1 Million Cups” helps attract area start-ups

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NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Northland version of "1 Million Cups" is helping attract start-up businesses to Clay and Platte counties.

Every week thousands gather near the Country Club Plaza to learn about entrepreneur success stories at the Kauffman Foundation. Now, North Kansas City business leaders have set up their own version of the popular event.

People here say the Missouri River can be a barrier in more ways than one. When it comes to traveling down to the Plaza to learn about spreading start-up success, many Northland small business owners won't make the trip, saying it takes too much time.

That's why Northland leaders are now live streaming "1-Million Cups" from the Kauffman Foundation at a more convenient location in the North Kansas City business district. Dozens show up for the networking event and also get customized presentations on business consulting help specifically for Northlanders and hear start-up success stories from those who have invested and made it north of the river.

The idea is to break down the river as a barrier to growth and development in Clay and Platte counties.

"A lot of people from the south, they think of crossing the Missouri River, they're close to Omaha," said John Miller of the North Kansas City Business Council. "I think when everybody thinks about going south it's a whole other community, a whole different lifestyle. It's a whole other city basically. We're trying to figure out how to join the two in a way so that boundary may not exist. The live stream feed is one of the ways we're doing it with Million Cups because we are tying it in to stuff going on downtown or south of downtown and tying it in with north of the river."

While people at the Kauffman Center asked questions about Minddrive, a firm which helps urban core teens expand their horizons by building electric cars, northlanders here learned the secrets behind Cinderblock Brewing Company, a North Kansas City startup that's the first hard cider brewer in the metro area.

"We like the community a lot," said Bryce Schaffter, owner of Cinderblock Brewing Company. "My wife and I actually just live about half a mile up the road from here. We've always enjoyed North Kansas City. It has very much a small town feel and yet it's located right next to the city. It's a great opportunity, the community was really welcoming. The city council was great with us. So we thought it was a great opportunity to open up down here."

The North Kansas City Business Council hopes these weekly gatherings will spread the word among entrepreneurs on the advantages of setting up shop in Northtown. Chief among them: Fiber optic networking without waiting for Google to come in and install it, and no earnings taxes.

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