Innovation Economy


Life Sciences

Developing the life sciences as a major economic sector in the Kansas City region became a priority in 1998, when Civic Council board members recognized the transformational nature of the Stowers family’s decision to build a world-class medical research institute in Kansas City. The Civic Council’s goal was to bring together the assets of the several educational and research organizations in the community to create the critical mass of activity necessary to raise Kansas City’s profile as a life sciences center. 

Kansas City area life sciences accomplishments:

  • The Kansas Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI) was created to identify, build and support opportunities to grow the life sciences in our region.
  • Although the Kansas City metropolitan area had less than $100 million in annual life sciences research expenditures in 1998, by 2012 KCALSI’s original stakeholder institutions reported $355 million in life sciences research expenditures.
  • The University of Kansas achieved National Cancer Institute designation in July 2012.
  • Children’s Mercy Hospital has become one of the leading pediatric research centers in the nation, with a unique strength in the use of genomics to diagnose and identify personalized treatment strategies.
  • UMKC has advanced in the field of translational research and has raised its profile as a center for research in bone density/bone biology.
  • The region’s strength in research and the production of animal health products has earned the area Congressional designation as the Animal Health Corridor, which accounts for nearly one-third of total sales in the global animal health market.
  • The life sciences is the fastest growing sector of the regional economy, and continued its growth through the Great Recession.

The Civic Council continues to provide financial support to KCALSI and emerging initiatives, as well as leadership and advocacy.



The Heartland Civic Collaborative is a multi-state, multi-metro initiative to address the economic crossroads at which the Great Plains and Midwest regions of the United States stand.

Civic leaders from four Midwestern metros – Des Moines, Kansas City, Omaha and St. Louis – partner to develop strategic, coordinated actions that strengthen the Heartland’s competitiveness in the global economy. The mission of the Heartland Civic Collaborative is to take advantage of mutually advantageous opportunities and capitalize on the collective assets of the region in order to strengthen the entire region’s competitiveness and opportunities for economic development.

The Heartland Civic Collaborative is focused on:

  • providing a strong presence in national policy debates;
  • assuring legislative and regulatory actions do not negatively impact the region;
  • allowing collective and strategic pursuits of funding opportunities at the federal level; and
  • identifying economic strengths and options, separate from any federal agenda, that can be enhanced by partnerships of multiple metropolitan areas.

The Heartland Civic Collaborative recognizes that the entire region’s economic future, including that of its metropolitan areas, is challenged with broad geographic expanses, declining and aging population bases, and competitively-driven industry consolidations that have moved large numbers of companies and jobs out of the region. These factors, combined with the economic downturn that began in 2007, have highlighted the need for strong, lasting partnerships among the region’s population centers to promote strategic growth and position the Heartland to compete with other economic regions in the United States and across the globe.

Each metropolitan area will continue to compete fiercely for growth and development within its own boundaries; thus, efforts of the Heartland Civic Collaborative will focus on key resource and issue areas where broad collaboration will add value or reduce risk for the entire region while allowing the individual metros to compete. Issues currently identified for joint action are:

  • Transportation – movement of goods and people
  • Connectivity – entrepreneurship and human capital
  • Life Sciences – regional strengths in human, animal, and plant health.
  • Water – quality, quantity and stewardship