SkillsUSA begins in Kansas City, but will soon take its 15,000 visitors elsewhere

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The largest annual convention in Kansas City begins this week, but it's one of the last years that SkillsUSA will be holding it in the city.

Over the course of the week, there will be 15,000 people from all over the country coming into town for the national SkillsUSA convention.

This will be their 20th year holding it in the city, but one of their last.

Every year the convention grows, but as Shelly Coates from SkillsUSA explained, "the city unfortunately is becoming too small for us."

SkillsUSA is a program where students compete in 98 different skill areas.

When the national convention leaves after next year, it will take with it $15 million in annual economic contributions and possible future workers.

Coates said often contestants are approached by employers saying, "I want you to apply for a job with my company." She said many times they hire them.

The hope of the organization and competitors is that they will eventually land a job, thanks to the practice and competition.

Calvin Bulan is a competitor who traveled to Kansas City from Hawaii. "My main goal right now is for architecture," he said. "I know for architecture you have to have a visual basis, and you're going to have to present it for the people, and having this presentation skill really helps."

The competitions will take place at Bartle Hall, Municipal Auditorium and a handful of other locations around town. The organization will use up all 650,000 square feet of Bartle, plus every table and chair.

When Gabrielle Reznik, also of Hawaii, first visited the city for the competition last year, she was overwhelmed by its size. 

"When we first came up here and toured the floor they told us only 40 percent of the competition was up here, and this is one of the biggest rooms I've been in," she said. "It honestly feels like it's our entire island. It feels that big."

But unfortunately it's not big enough. SkillsUSA has now had to expand to seven other facilities in Kansas City and Overland Park.

Next year will be the last year the convention will be held in Kansas City. After that, it will be held in Louisville, Ky., where everything and everyone will be under one roof.

Print this article Back to Top