The Kansas City region has many lending institutions providing financing to small businesses and several technical assistance providers serving small-business owners. However, the region still has ample room to develop in terms of connecting entrepreneurs to the capital and support they need to launch and grow their enterprises.
Based on more than 30 interviews with local stakeholders in the small-business development field and an analysis of small-business lending activity and other economic metrics, we found that small-business support gaps persist for younger and smaller firms. We also found that loan capital is not equitably distributed in the region by place and by race, with different opinions among interviewees about whether this dynamic reflects discriminatory practices. Although community development financial institutions serve businesses perceived as riskier investments, awareness about these lenders lags among the neediest entrepreneurs, and some find their interest rates too high. Finally, lenders and technical assistance providers have an opportunity to provide entrepreneurs with a clearer path to accessing capital, and local and state governments can increase investments in small-business development.