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Back2KC sets return date for its 2024 homecoming effort, scouting familiar faces to build an even stronger KC

DATE POSTED:June 7, 2024

When Back2KC returns this fall, the homegrown talent recruitment initiative will lean on unexpected connections to entice former residents — now out-of-town professionals — to give Kansas City’s recent Golden Age another look, organizers said. 

“The biggest win we can have is if these expats and ex-Kansas Citians come back, move their families here, move their headquarters here, or open up a business here,” said Jessica Powell, Back2KC’s program manager. “That’s the biggest win that we can hope for.” 

Back2KC — an initiative launched in 2018 by KCRise Fund founder Darcy Howe and set to return Sept. 20 — draws talent back to Kansas City, investing in the city’s economic development by connecting investors with emerging companies for potential hiring opportunities and mentorship.

ICYMI: Startup ambassadors’ pitch to former Kansas Citians: Move your innovation, hustle Back2KC

SafetyCulture, Crossroads Arts District, Kansas City

Expats making KC their new home

The main keynote event for out-of-towners is expected to be hosted by SafetyCulture in the Crossroads. It’s a full circle moment because the Australian company chose Kansas City for its U.S. headquarters after participating in Back2KC in 2018, Powell said, calling it a testament to the event’s impact.

Jessica Powell, Back2KC

“Now, six years later, we are hosting Back2KC at their offices, which is such a wonderful example of what we’re trying to build,” she said.

The event at SafetyCulture aims to have about 75 attendees, with keynote sessions featuring local entrepreneurs, to highlight Kansas City’s commitment to startups and economic development. 

Among the entrepreneur success stories is Jack Spangler, who moved back to Kansas City recently after attending previous Back2KC events.

“He’s been somebody that we’ve been scouting since 2018, and now he’s here, building a startup,” said Powell. 

Another notable former expat Back2KC attendee, she noted, is Garret Prather, the vice president of strategic partnerships for Sandlot Goods, Kansas City’s only local hat manufacturer, who now produces apparel for the KC Current, Travis and Jason Kelce’s podcast New Heights, and others.

2023 Back2KC participants network during a happy hour hosted by Startland News at Spark Kansas City; photo by Nikki Overfelt Chifalu, Startland News

Grab a drink, meet someone new

For more easy-going fun and a chance to meet someone new, a happy hour will follow the main event on the rooftop at ON Broadway, a short walk from SafetyCulture. In the afternoon, about 150 attendees are expected to grab a drink and network. 

The happy hour will also feature a startup showcase and sponsor engagement.

“Six startups will be on display to highlight the innovation happening in Kansas City with stealth-mode, new, exciting, early stage companies, so that we can celebrate what’s being built here,” said Powell. 

The party doesn’t end there, she said, noting that following the happy hour at ON Broadway, out-of-town guests and potential recruits will head to the Plaza Art Fair for an opportunity for more connection and fun. 

For those interested in getting involved, the Back2KC website provides a link for volunteers and detailed information about the event.

“There are so many people who have moved back and are now contributing to our community,” said Powell, “It’s really awesome to see people reconnecting with their roots and investing in Kansas City’s future.”

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