10 Reasons to be excited about Kansas City’s economy in 2014
by Jeff Pinkerton
2013 will go down as a decent year for Kansas City’s economy, but the momentum is building for an even better 2014. Here are 10 reasons we should be excited about this new year:
- Employment is rebounding. From January through November of 2013 the metro added nearly 12,000 jobs. By itself this is not a particularly robust figure, but it marks a rebound from 2012 when we added only 7,500 jobs. MARC’s economic forecast projects over 14,000 jobs in 2014.
- High-tech employment is growing. A few months ago, urban economist Joel Kotkin ranked Kansas City 13th overall among the largest metros in the U.S. based on high-tech and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) employment growth between 2001 and 2013. KC has fared particularly well in recent years, with tech industry jobs (software, engineering and computer programming) growing by 18.5 percent between 2010 and 2013. This ranks eighth out of the 51 largest metros in the country ahead of tech centers like Denver and San Jose.
- The housing market is on the rise. Housing prices and home sales jumped in 2013, paving the way for new home construction. Speaking of construction…
- New construction projects start in 2014. The construction industry can look forward to a solid year even beyond new housing as work on projects such as the downtown streetcar and Cerner’s new Bannister Campus get started. Additionally, the Sprint Campus is reaching capacity, which could spur demand for new office development in southern Johnson County.
- Manufacturing will add jobs. Kansas City manufacturing has more than held its own in recent years. While the manufacturing sector shrinks nationwide, Kansas City has done a good job of holding onto its manufacturing jobs. Recent investments by General Motors and Ford will result in new manufacturing jobs in 2014, as will the recent announcement that Aviation Technical Service will bring 600 jobs to KCI’s Overhaul base.
- Downtown keeps developing. Downtown Kansas City will continue to build on its momentum with several new residential and hotel projects and streetcar construction set to begin in 2014.
- The information sector has stabilized. The information sector has been a key reason as to why Kansas City’s overall employment performance has lagged in recent years. After peaking in 2000 at 57,000, employment in this sector dropped to a low of 28,700 jobs in March 2011. Since then, employment has stabilized and crawled back to 30,000.
- Exports have increased. We often don’t think about Kansas City being a key exporting city, but Brookings noted that we averaged an 8.7-percent annual increase in exports between 2009 and 2012, which ranks us 27th out of the largest 100 metros. Our previously mentioned strength in manufacturing promises to move us up the export standings even further in the years ahead.
- Kansas City is a tourist destination. We already know Kansas City is a great place, and that word is getting out as Lonely Planet named KC as a top 10 travel destination in 2014. Kansas City also secured several future NCAA championship events in upcoming years, including the Division II football championships starting in next year. Additionally, Kansas City has submitted a bid to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.
- Entrepreneurship is still our thing. Kansas City has a strong entrepreneurial tradition and a bright entrepreneurial future. Google Fiber was the centerpiece to the Kansas City Startup Village which is now home to over two dozen startup businesses — and growing! Entrepreneurs can find continued support and networking opportunities through organizations like The Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac program, KCSourceLink and 1 Million Cups.
And here’s a bonus reason to be excited about 2014:
KC sports teams are back on the map! Hopefully we’ll see a nice Super Bowl run by our resurgent Chiefs at the beginning of this year. Then in spring and summer the Royals will look to improve upon last year’s winning record and advance to their first post season since 1985. Finally, Sporting KC will take to the pitch to defend their freshly minted status as MLS Champions.
All in all, there is a lot to look forward to in 2014!