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Sprint and T-Mobile Merger – What it means for Kansas City

July 26, 2019

The long-anticipated Sprint/T-Mobile merger finally appears to be a reality. The Department of Justice approved the $26 billion deal today.

There is still a lot to be learned about the merger, including how it might impact Kansas City.

The biggest blow may be to our civic pride. It’s always hard to lose the headquarters of a nationally known firm. Sprint has been a great corporate citizen in the metro for a long time, and we will have to wait and see if the newly merged firm continues to engage in civic life in Kansas City.

The biggest unanswered question is, undoubtedly, what happens to our current Sprint jobs after the merger? This is a very personal issue for people who work at Sprint or its suppliers, but it’s also a big question for our regional economy.

Over time, the region as a whole may well be better off. Sprint (and the whole telecommunications industry, for that matter) has been shrinking its employment footprint in our region for quite a while. As recently as 2002, the telecommunications industry employed more than 30,000 people in the metro. Thanks to intense competition and continuous downsizing, that number now stands at just under 5,000.  Our decline in telecom employment has dropped much more steeply than the nation as a whole over the same time period.

Sprint Merger Trend

Sprint and T-Mobile representatives have repeatedly said that Kansas City will be an important part of the new company. Perhaps a stronger, merged company will help bring an end to our telecom employment slide by adding local jobs.

Many large companies are finding benefits in having two headquarters, or at least a significant presence in more than one metro. Kansas City would make a strong complement to Seattle (T-Mobile’s current HQ). We already have a core of skilled workers in telecommunications, and Kansas City is an emerging tech hub. Plus, we can offer a significantly lower cost of living than Seattle.

Bottom line, Sprint — in whatever new form the merged company takes — is likely to remain an important part of our economy for some time to come.  Sprint has made a lasting impression on Kansas City. Its success has translated into good jobs and incomes for tens of thousands of Kansas City area families. So we’ll close by saying to Sprint, “Thanks for the memories,” and to the new Sprint/T-Mobile, let’s make some more.

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