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Gateways KC

What is Gateways KC?

The Kansas City metro area is one of 20 Gateways for Growth communities selected by a national partnership between the New American Economy and Welcoming America. The program supports the development and implementation of a multi-sector strategic plan for welcoming and integrating new Americans to the region. Selected communities are part of a national trend in which local government, business and civil society leaders embrace research showing that being inclusive toward immigrants helps cities and counties thrive economically.

Desired outcomes of our strategic plan

In 2015, the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), the Kansas City Area Development Council and the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City launched a business-led initiative, KC Rising, to determine strategies to increase the Kansas City region’s global economic competitiveness. An important strategy emerging from the KC Rising work around Human Capital is to retain foreign students to stay in the region. Gateways KC will serve KC Rising by working with colleges and universities to help retain college graduates through a robust internship clearinghouse, cultural events and assistance with visa challenges. This retention strategy will also work to help attract more foreign students to come to and stay in the metro region.

Gateways KC hopes to create a broad and shared understanding of the economic value of immigrants to our region, and ensure businesses and organizations are culturally competent in welcoming immigrants and are able to serve their needs. The initiative also hopes to support organizations and programs to make sure immigrants have a path to become fully engaged and contribute to the civic life of the community.

Map the impact

New American Economy created a map to illustrate the contributions immigrants make at the city, state and regional levels.

Kick-off event

On September 7, MARC hosted a program to launch Gateways KC, and share information about the Gateways for Growth program, the demographics and economic benefit of our region’s immigrant population, best practices on becoming a welcoming community through the St. Louis Mosaic project, and efforts in our community by a local panel of civic, education, business and community leaders.

Speakers included:

  • Kate Brick, associate director of state and local initiatives for New American Economy and Isha Lee, chief network officer at Welcoming America  | View presentation
  • Dr. Donna Ginther, Ph.D., director of the Center for Science, Technology and Economic Policy at the University of Kansas Institute for Policy and Social Research  |  View presentation
  • Betsy Cohen, executive director of the St. Louis Mosaic Project with the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership  |  View presentation
  • Hillary Cohen Singer, executive director for Jewish Vocational Services 
  • Dr. Bernard Franklin, Ph.D., assistant vice president for student life at Kansas State University Olathe
  • Chris Gould, director for global talent acquisition & mobility at Black & Veatch 
  • Angela Ferguson, immigration attorney with Austin & Ferguson

Next steps

A Steering Committee has been formed and will continue to meet to outline specific steps, and continue to seek technical assistance from Welcoming America and A New American Economy, two national organizations supporting the national Gateways for Growth program.


Marlene Nagel, Mid-America Regional Council,, 816/701-8218

Thanks to Kansas City Area Development Council for the creation of the Gateways KC logo.