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Economy

The Hunt for an 'Entrepreneurial Ecosystem'

Business boosters believe connectivity is the key to spurring new businesses. But can that model work in chronically disinvested communities?
Entrepreneur Vewiser Dixon has big plans for Kansas City's jazz district, but economic development in his neighborhood has been a challenge.
Entrepreneur Vewiser Dixon has big plans for Kansas City's jazz district, but economic development in his neighborhood has been a challenge. Courtesy Vewiser Dixon

Vewiser Dixon leans forward behind his wide wooden desk and waxes on about his neighborhood. Dixon has lived in this corner of Kansas City his whole life; it was once and perhaps remains the beating heart of African-American life here—18th and Vine, made famous by Charlie Parker, Count Basie, and that set. Dixon now owns property along the rough-strewn blocks around the jazz district, and he has a vision.

“It was our mecca for black business, you know?” he says. “That’s my dream—to restore that in the 21st century.”