Economy

Cody Newill / KCUR

Almost 400 youth soccer teams from across the Midwest came to Overland Park, Kansas for the 2015 KC Champions Cup tournament, and that means lots of money went into hotels, restaurants and shops in the area.

Brian Darby owns Coach's Bar & Grill. He said the Champions Cup and other tournaments like it at the Overland Park Soccer Complex bring in customers by the dozens.

Sylvia Maria Gross / William Leonard Elder / KCUR

Pollen levels have skyrocketed to new heights this spring in Kansas City.  That’s bad news for allergy sufferers, but good news for a UMKC scientist, who has found a way to use a byproduct of all that suffering.

Ernest Virostus looks like what you might imagine a biochemical engineer would look (stereotypically, of course): weirdly parted black hair, glasses askew, a red bow-tie. He’s always tinkering in his laboratory with glass beakers oozing fluids into other beakers

“Look at the viscosity, here,” he points to a bubbling vat of thick liquid, which looks like a pot of lime green jam. “It’s the perfect texture.”

Ford Motor Company / Wikimedia Commons

The middle class is seemingly ever-present in American politics and ideals. President Obama pushed for what he calls "middle class economics" in his State of the Union address, and according to a Pew research study in 2012, nearly half of all Americans identified themselves as being part of the middle class.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Community activists and faith leaders from Kansas and Missouri rallied at the intersection of 63rd Street and Troost Avenue Thursday, calling for a "moral economy."

One issue that several speakers focused on was a recent comment by Federal Reserve Bank  of Kansas City president Esther George suggesting that interest rates may be increased to combat inflation. 

Courtesy / EyeVerify

Kansas City-based tech firm EyeVerify announced a major deal Sunday, one that will put its technology on millions of Chinese smart phones.  

EyeVerify develops mobile technology that can recognize the unique veins in a person’s eye in a fraction of a second. Users just have to look at their phone cameras to unlock the device, or open a password-protected site. EyeVerify founder Toby Rush says it’s more secure than a password, and easier.

daveynin / Flickr--CC

Kansas City has been named one of the top five cities, globally, for entrepreneurs. So it's no surprise that entrepreneur has become kind of a buzzword around here.

During Central Standard's first Buzz Kill session, small business consultant Dodie Jacobi reflected on widespread misuse of the word and all its permutations.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Following the announcement of 900 new jobs at Ford's Claycomo plant, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says there's strong potential for continued growth in the state's auto manufacturing sector.

"I think the best way to continue to move forward in this market is to continue after-market for the vans and the pick-up trucks that turn them into ambulances and things of that nature, as well as getting on as the place in the middle of the country that can support factories all throughout the Midwest," says Nixon.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

As electronics retailer RadioShack prepares to file for bankruptcy, rumors are circulating that Sprint Corp. is in talks to buy up some of its stores.

But if you're trying to remember the last time you walked into a RadioShack, you're not the only one.

"That's interesting because I had the same thought recently when I drove past a RadioShack that's near me, and I didn't realize it was even still there," says Jason Meyers, who writes about the telecommunications industry for online publication LightReading.

Frank Morris / KCUR

Stealing from your neighbor may not sound like a good idea, but Kansas and Missouri can’t seem to get enough of it.

For years now, the states have been locked in an economic border war, paying businesses –through tax incentives — to move across the state line, without necessarily creating new jobs. Lately there have been a few tentative signs of rapprochement. 

Alex Smith / KCUR

The Kansas City area may soon be home to a network of 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations capable of serving 10,000 electric cars and trucks.

Kansas City Power and Light Co. announced Monday plans to create the Clean Charge Network in partnership with Nissan and ChargePoint, a charging station manufacturer.

People working to develop a new terminal at Kansas City International Airport say the project is going so well that it could become a national model. 

Frank Morris / KCUR

Increasingly Americans see fast internet as being more like a functioning sewer line, than a luxury. And to that end, a number of cities are trying to get into the internet provider business. But laws in 19 states hamper those efforts. President Obama wants to lift those restrictions.  Supporters of what’s known as municipal broadband can’t wait.

Good news, Kansas City – the metro is almost back to pre-recession employment levels.

The latest job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the Kansas City area has added around 10,000 jobs since November 2013 and only lags April 2008 numbers by about 5,000 jobs.

"All signs are pointing to this being a pretty productive year, especially the second half of the year, in terms of employment in Kansas City," says Jeff Pinkerton, an economist with the Mid-America Regional Council.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Missouri has the lowest average gasoline prices in the country at just $2.05 a gallon, according to AAA's daily fuel tracker.

On Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo., that average is even lower, at $1.97 a gallon.

The only city with lower prices in Missouri was Springfield, at $1.94 a gallon, according to AAA.

Kansas is ranked in the top ten most charitable states in the country, according to a study released by the personal finance website WalletHub.

Kansas tied narrowly with Idaho to rank third in the nation. Utah came in first place and South Dakota came in second.

According to the publishers, the purpose of the study was to foster holiday competition between the states to increase their charitable activities.

WalletHub ranked the states using eight criteria:

michaelfranks6 / Flickr--CC

Kansas Citians love eating and drinking, so it should come as no surprise that food and drinks top their list of the best Kansas City gifts.

In our social media quest for a rundown of presents that would represent the Kansas City area , you shot back a grocery list of items that sound like the makings for a fun holiday party: regional beer, popcorn, coffee, chocolate, pastries, toffee, nuts and more.

And the list wouldn’t be complete without the ample mentions of Kansas City barbecue sauce.

Courtesy photo / KCUR

 

When you want to send a little bit of the Kansas City area to friends and families during the holidays, what's your go-to gift?

Maybe it's a jar of barbecue sauce or a Kansas City Royals T-shirt. Perhaps it's a bag of sunflower seeds or a six-pack of locally brewed beer.

As we enter the holiday shopping season, divulge your Kansas City-inspired wish list.

Tell KCUR: What's the best Kansas City gift?

If you thought Black Friday and Cyber Monday were the only big holiday shopping events, think again.

Small Business Saturday started in 2010 as a marketing campaign for American Express. Last year, small businesses across the country raked in $5.7 billion in sales on that one day. And that number is expected to grow this year.

Dan Murray is the National Federation of Independent Business’s Kansas branch director. He admits he was skeptical at first, but quickly realized how the dedicated day can help visibility for such businesses.

Wikipedia -- Creative Commons

A new report ranking Kansas City-area companies on LGBT equality essentially gave the Missouri side a B — and Kansas a C. 

Frank Morris / KCUR

Wichita, Kan., calls itself the "Air Capital of the World."

But sales of the business jets made there took a nosedive during the recession and have struggled since.

A couple of fresh business ideas are trying to help. One centers on getting more people to travel in small planes. The other is repurposing business jet technology to build a jet fighter for the developing world. 

Hard times in Wichita

Wichita’s been through some tough years recentl. And so has Kevin Bell.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The Nerdery, a Minneapolis-based technology company, will add 100 jobs in Kansas City, Mo., over the next five years, the Economic Development Corporation announced Wednesday.

The company, which designs websites and mobile apps, will also invest $4.3 million in the historic Western Union building downtown. 

Sam Zeff / KCU

A summer jobs program for low-income youth is expanding in Jackson County.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says 1,500 slots will be available to workers age 18 to 24 in the county.

Last year, using federal grant money, workers were hired to spruce up local parks. This year, Nixon says, there’s more jobs available and so the state is looking for private partners.

Mike Mozart / Flickr--CC

Sprint Corp. announced Monday that it would layoff at least 2,000 employees.

The cuts, which are expected to save Sprint around $400 million, are part of an aggressive cost-cutting package introduced by CEO Marcelo Claure, a Bolivian businessman who took over from ousted CEO Dan Hesse in August.

“The Sprint brand was weak," Claure told investors during an earnings call Monday. "We had no clear value proposition for consumers. The measure of our own customer’s willingness to recommend Sprint was the lowest among the four big wireless carriers.”

BasicGov / Flickr-CC

New numbers on foreclosures in Missouri and Kansas show promising signs of economic stability for both states.

Real estate information company RealtyTrac reports that foreclosure rates in Kansas dropped 31 percent from July to September. In Missouri, the numbers dropped even lower for the same period — a 45.5 percent decrease.

RealtyTrac spokeswoman Ginny Walker said that in terms of foreclosures, both states are back to pre-housing crisis numbers. She attributes the progress to consistently low unemployment rates in both states.

bizjournals.com

The city council found out Friday that they were wrong in their assumption that Cerner Founder Neal Patterson's offer to pay the costs of razing Kemper Arena to make way for a smaller facility would knock down their asking price. 

Attorney Chase Simmons told the council that despite Patterson's remark to a civic group, the American Royal Board has not reduced the amount of incentives it is asking for to $25 million.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

 

Overland Park-based Sprint Corp. has begun a series of workforce reductions, according to documents the Kansas telecommunications company filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The filing didn’t say how many employees would be affected by the layoffs, which the company began to implement on Tuesday.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Thursday morning Ford announced it was adding 1,200 jobs at its Claycomo, Mo., plant because of surging demand for the company’s new Transit van.

Ford says Transit van sales have grown every month since it was introduced.

With hundreds of United Auto Workers union members looking on, John Hinrichs, Ford president in the Americas, said by the end of the year there will be 6,000 UAW jobs in Claycomo.

That makes it the assembly giant in the company.

BTC Keychain / Flickr-CC

A federal commission has shut down Leawood, Kan., based company Butterfly Labs Inc., for failing to deliver high-powered Bitcoin mining equipment to customers on time. 

The Kansas City Business Journal reports that the Federal Trade Commission believes Butterfly Labs took between $20 million and $50 million in specially designed computer orders from customers. Many of those orders didn't get delivered on time, or at all. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Last week, Overland Park-based Sprint Corp. officials indicated job cuts were coming in the fall.  

The extent of the layoffs at the Kansas company, which employs roughly 7,000 people locally, hasn’t been divulged, but at least one Sprint worker is taking the news to heart.

“Personally, I am cleaning everything out of my cube,” said Peg McMahon, a Sprint employee who responded to our Tell KCUR question of the week.

Brandon Burke / Flickr--CC

A three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board says Kansas City-based Gates & Sons Barbeque engaged in an unfair labor practice after workers participated in strike last summer.

According to the complaint, which was filed by the Workers' Organizing Committee on the employees' behalf, about a quarter of the Main Street restaurant's workforce informed their supervisor they planned to strike on July 30, 2013, and return to work the next day. The strike was part of an organized effort among Kansas City fast-food workers to ask for higher wages.

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