Kansas City's West Side Entrepreneurs Get $1.6 Million Boost For Business Incubator

Oct 6, 2017

Entrepreneur Luis Hernandez opened his Latin American bakery, Panaderia des Americas, in 2013 with a microloan from the Hispanic Economic Development Corporation.
Credit courtesy: Hispanic Economic Development Corporation

The U.S. Department of Commerce is awarding $1.6 million to the Hispanic Economic Development Corporation of Greater Kansas City, or HEDC.

The grant, announced on Thursday, will be used to renovate an industrial building near 27th and Southwest Boulevard, at 2720 Jarboe, and turn it into a small business incubator. 

Pedro Zamora, the non-profit’s executive director, says minorities are sometimes left out of Kansas City's entrepreneurship community. 

"It's a big piece that's missing," says Zamora. "We know Kansas City has been identified as the fastest growing entrepreneurial epicenter for the nation, but are we growing equitably?"

He adds, "We put together a strategy that can allow us to participate in that same entrepreneurial, competitive edge, but bringing in accessibility for the underserved communities."

The focus will be on low-income minority entrepreneurs, says Zamora, and provide an "opportunity to get access to the technical assistance training, the state-of-the art technology necessary to be competitive and grow their small businesses in our competitive market here in Kansas City."

The project also includes a commercial kitchen, conference rooms, co-working spaces and business assistance services. It’s expected to create 90 jobs. 

HEDC will have to match the Commerce Department funds, but Zamora thinks it can do so, by the end of the year. 

Maria Carter is the news director at KCUR 89.3. 

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.