Chapter 6: Kansas City: Growing a Second Tier Life Sciences Region in the Heartland
‘There are times in the lives of great cities when they seem caught, almost suspended, between their past and their future. This is such a time for Kansas City. The city stands with one leg planted in an old economy of manufacturing, rail transportation and low-skill jobs, while the other leg is striding briskly into the knowledge economy of high-tech jobs, complex information systems and the dazzling intellectual revolution of the life sciences. Can Kansas City be a center of excellence in the relentless competition of the global knowledge economy?’ Greater Kansas City Community Foundation (2005: 3) INTRODUCTION TO THE ECONOMY IN KANSAS CITY The previous chapters described the growth of regional high-tech economies. Portland’s Silicon Forest was seeded by firms that produce test and measurement instruments and semiconductors. Boise’s high-tech economy is similarly specialized. In both regions, firms such as Tektronix, Intel, HP, and Micron Technology helped shape their surroundings through their innovation efforts and entrepreneurial activities. Can the dynamics of growth in these high-tech economies be generalized to regions that host a different set of knowledge-based industries such as biotechnology or life sciences? Are second tier life sciences regions similar to second tier hightech regions? In this chapter I explore the case of a second tier life sciences region: the evolution and growth of the life sciences economy in Kansas City. The quotation at the start of this chapter hints at the changes the Kansas City economy is facing. Located at the confluence of the Kansas and...
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