A grassroots initiative backed by the city’s most powerful companies aims to attract more Millennials to KC.
By Nicolette Martin and Kathryn Jones
They’re obsessed with craft beer and mustaches. They see the world through an Instagram filter and recall their greatest memories not with a scrapbook or slide projector, but by scrolling through their iPhone’s camera roll. They’re compulsive Tweeters, brazen bloggers and serial entrepreneurs determined to make a difference in their community. They’re Millennials, and Kansas City wants more of them.
LiveKC is a grassroots initiative backed by some of the city’s mightiest and most influential companies—Hallmark, Sprint, Cerner and Black & Veatch, to name a few—with the mission to draw more Millennials to the area. The movement is spearheaded by Sporting Kansas City’s ownership group, ONGOAL, whose five founders include Cerner Chairman of the Board, CEO and co-founder Neal Patterson.
“Really the goal is simple,” says Ashley Voss, business development manager, Sporting Club Events at Sporting KC. “We want Kansas City to be a more attractive place for young people to live, work and play. We have long-term civic agenda goals, but right now, we are planting the seed and developing the culture for young professionals to come together.”
Over time, LiveKC will embark on a broad-scale effort targeting housing, jobs, transportation and entrepreneurship. But for now, the main focus is to generate buzz and captivate the hearts and minds of young professionals in their 20s and 30s. In fact, LiveKC’s corporate partners recruited their own employees in the Millennial age range to serve as LiveKC ambassadors.
“Ultimately, we look to create a critical mass of people at unique events,” Voss explains. “This ranges from an amateur table tennis tournament with several start-up ventures, to ideation sessions with LiveKC members at Sporting Park, to creating a pop-up lounge at the Plaza Art Fair that served as the meeting place for Millennials.”
One such event was Smash(KC), an epic ping-pong battle that took place at Ingenology’s Crossroads office. More than 150 attendees enjoyed games of tennis table, free kegs of Boulevard Beer and the chance to mingle with Sporting KC players—all for a good cause. The event raised nearly $5,000 for SportingKC’s charity, The Victory Project.
The EveKC 2013 NYE party is perhaps LiveKC’s most lauded event, but that soon may change considering what it has planned for its summertime soiree. The Firey Stick opened to a very large, enthusiastic crowd on July 18 on the north lawn of Liberty Memorial. Party-goers didn’t find brass-buttoned blazers or fancy silverware there—just music, food trucks, giant-sized beer pong, competitive leisure sports and a chance to win $1 million.
“We hope that the Fiery Stick Open will become Kansas City’s mid-summer spectacle,” Voss says. “We’re creating an environment where you can participate in bocce ball, badminton, eat from local food trucks and mingle with 3,000 of your closest friends.”
What’s next for LiveKC? The Midnight Underground Circus, an awe-inspiring evening on Feb. 20 that includes reimagined circus performances by Quixotic, a full midway with interactive carnival games, music by DJ Sheppa, all-inclusive beer and bubbly, plus a surprise musical performance at the stroke of midnight. Get your tickets here and join the movement at livekc.org.