New shared workspace opens in 18th and Vine District, hoping to attract minority business owners

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City is quickly becoming home to a number of startup businesses and entrepreneurs who are looking to make something big.

Now there’s a place where they can turn their big ideas and dreams into reality.

In a new coworking space in the 18th and Vine District, everyone is welcome, but Kansas City is particularly looking to tap into the minority talent pool, to hone their ideas and skills.

On Thursday night, the space was packed with dozens of people as the community celebrated the opening of the Opportunity Hub Ecosystem Lab.

It’s a place where visions, ideas and dreams will now grow from the mind and be put into action.

“Having founders of color to have a space of their own to collaborate, I think it’s an amazing initiative,” said Edna Martinson, co-founder of Boddle Learning.

The shared workspace is the vision of several groups, including the Kansas City Economic Development Corporation and Opportunity Hub, an organization that looks to level the playing field for minorities in tech and other startups.

Those behind the project, which held its grand opening Thursday, are hoping something special can grow from it.

“This provides them a great opportunity to showcase what they could be potentially offering to the city,” said T’Risa McCord with the KC Economic Development Corporation.

City leaders said anyone can use the space but they’re hoping it will spark growth for minority business owners like Martinson, who co-founded Boddle, an online education website that teaches math.

She said spaces like this are invaluable for business leaders looking to make their mark.

“I would encourage founders to join in and not stay on the sidelines, so that in five, six or even a year from now we can see it bustling with entrepreneurs,” Martinson said.

“There are entrepreneurs who are just a step ahead or just a step behind, and it’s so good to get the information on, ‘How did you do this? How did you make your first hire?'” said Clarence Tan, co-founder of Boddle.

And then maybe the next big startup name will come from Kansas City.

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