I get asked this a lot: “Why did you put a travel agency in Kansas?” The simplest answer is, it’s where I wanted to live and raise a family. Lucky for me, the decision was great for business.
I grew up in a small town in Ohio. It’s more eastern Midwest, but still has Midwest values. My career in the travel industry had taken me to Florida. When my son turned five, I realized I didn’t want him to go to school there. The town we lived in was focused on tourism so the schools weren’t great.
The company I worked for was headquartered in Kansas City and we decided to move to the middle of the country. My wife picked the Blue Valley School District where the schools were rated number three in the nation (and still earn accolades annually). We settled down.
It’s here that I started Global Connections on July 19, 1996. Twenty years later, I still enjoy the quality of life that Johnson County and the Kansas City metropolitan area affords me, my family and my employees.
If you’re not from Kansas City, you might not know there are a lot of major universities close by such as the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and the University of Missouri. With so much talent in one place, we’ve found it’s easy to hire like-minded people. Over these 20 years, we’ve created a dedicated team of professionals who send people on amazing vacations.
Not to mention, we’ve discovered many perks to living in the heartland. For one, we can fly East or West with ease—we’re already half way there! This can save us a whole day of travel in many cases.
And, Kansas City has the 1985 and 2015 Major League World Series Champions Kansas City Royals and the 2000 (as Kansas City Wizards) and 2013 MLS Cup Champions Sporting KC, plus these other recent notables (to name only a few):
America’s 20 Most Charming Cities – Travel + Leisure
America’s Best Cities for Foodies – Travel + Leisure
America’s Friendliest City – Travel + Leisure
The Top 25 Future Ready US Cities – Convene
9 Hot Startup US Cities that Aren’t San Francisco or New York – Entrepreneur
The Top Ten Cities for Creatives – Huffington Post
Of course, we have some of the best barbecue in the world, and a lot of fountains. What could be more surprising to a non-Kansas Citian is that Kansas City was ranked one of the high tech cities you’ll want to call home by PC Mag, and the New York Times says millennials are going to Kansas City to live and work.
I get that this lifestyle isn’t for everyone. It seems more and more people are discovering this gem. I am still asked regularly why I don’t live on a beach. I could, but this is my home. This is where my heart and business is, in the heartland.
This article original appeared on Tom Lyons on LinkedIn.