It wasn’t so long ago that Kansas City’s status was relegated to a “flyover city,” a point of reference in the center of a U.S. map.
Paul Schofer, President and CEO of Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, can barely believe the changes he has seen taken place.
“Almost overnight, it seems the transformation of Kansas City has captured the attention of the county,” Schofer said. “When I left here in 2007 to pursue a unique opportunity in mid-Missouri, the performing arts in Kansas City seemed to be living in the past.
“When I returned to Kansas City less than five years later, the landscape had literally and figuratively changed. I returned to a thriving downtown, anchored by the arts and entertainment. This included the 18,000-seat Sprint Center, an energized Power & Light District, a vibrant Crossroads Arts District and, of course, this architectural masterpiece.”
And it’s not just downtown Kansas City that’s booming. The suburbs have expanded, and so have the number of U-Haul customers making this Midwest barbecue Mecca their new home.
At No. 9, Kansas City, Mo. is on the U-Haul Top 10 U.S. Destination Cities for 2014, rising one spot from the previous year. These rankings reflect the top destinations of one-way U-Haul truck rentals for the past calendar year.
While migration trends reports don’t correlate directly to a city’s population or economic growth, they are a strong gauge as to how well cities are attracting new residents.
“We have good, hardworking Midwest people here and they like bringing their families up here,” said Gary Wittkopp, marketing company president for U-Haul Company of Northern Kansas.
“There is affordable housing. North of Kansas City, there seems to be housing growth everywhere in the suburbs. There’s a new development popping up every time you turn around. Someone is buying those homes. And they’re attempting to build more hotels so Kansas City can draw some more conventions. They’re trying to renovate to bring people back into the city.”
U-Haul Company’s reach is growing in Kansas City, where the metropolitan area reaches into 15 counties in Missouri and Kansas.
Young professionals now seem more apt to live and build careers in Kansas City rather than leaving for other areas of the country. Downtown residential population has quadrupled in the last 10 years and rental occupancy is near capacity, according to Nick Benjamin, executive director of the Power & Light District.
Jim Heeter, who has led the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce since 2010, said simply that Kansas City is on a roll.
“It’s a hot destination for people coming here for employment as well as to visit,” noted Heeter, who rented a U-Haul trailer to move from Cambridge, Mass., to Kansas City 40 years ago.
“It’s one of the top arts towns in the country, visual and performing. It’s a great sports town with the Chiefs and Royals, but also in terms of college sports. I think there’s a real energy in Kansas City. One of the objectives is to be America’s most entrepreneurial city, and younger people can relate to that.”
Kansas City certainly hits both ends of the spectrum on a thermometer, so U-Haul storage options can come in handy as the summer moving season arrives.
And if driving a U-Haul truck to Kansas City is your future, it appears you won’t be alone.
“No longer a flyover city, we are now a destination city,” Schofer said. “From the thriving arts culture, our transformed downtown, to the continued growth in our greater Kansas City suburbs, we have become known as a great place to work, live and play. Others have noticed, too.”
Visit myuhaulstory.com each day as the U-Haul Top 10 U.S. Destination Cities for 2014 counts down to No. 1.
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