Fiber City: Kansas City No Longer 'Cow Town, USA'
Not that it ever fit the label, but with Google choosing Kansas City as its first ever "fiber city," the community is debunking the myth that it's just another "fly-over" town.
"You have to change that perception because there's a ton of talent here and a ton of stuff going on," said Adam Arredondo, co-founder of the startup community LocalRuckus.com.
Initially, the city wasn't even among Google's top 20 choices for the new high-speed fiber service, but ultimately Google chose it for a combination of reasons including strong roots in entrepreneurship. Kansas City is home to companies like H&R Block, Hallmark and Garmin.
It's also a community where Google can make a real impact locally by providing its service to those still without Internet connectivity as well as to local high schools.
"It gives a chance for innovation in classrooms with great possibilities," said Ray Daniels, co-chair of the Mayors' Bi-State Innovation Team.
Vince Vaughan, CEO of technology consultancy Why Status Quo?, said that Kansas City is now like a flashpoint where you can come and see how the world is changing.
"Google Fiber has given people a reason to talk about Kansas City," said Vaughan. "Des Moines is a great startup town, but they don't have Google Fiber. No one's talking about Des Moines' startups except for people in Des Moines."
Matthew Marcus, the other co-founder of LocalRuckus.com, said it's also the supportive nature of the community that makes Kansas City ideal.
"The Midwest mentality in general is more supportive. And you throw that in with the startup scene and you get people supporting each other, giving advice … not so much worried about competition but rather collaboration," explained Marcus.
It's why Synthia Payne, founder of Cyber Jammer Network, a subscriber network for musicians, chose KC.
"If it had been another city, I'm really not sure there would have been this kind of support," said Payne.
Rachel Hack, Google's community managerand a Kansas City native, said it's going to be a big year for Kansas City and Google.
"The two working together… it's a fantastic time to be here," said Hack.
"This is a huge opportunity where the world is looking to see what Kansas City does with Google Fiber and at the same time, learn about Kansas City," said Arredondo. "Something like Google Fiber gives us a spotlight, and you don't get that very often."