Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo
March 26-29, 2018, Kansas City, MO, In Partnership with usignite


The Next Generation Smart City – How to Build a Modern Economic Development Engine Using the Smart City Platform

Today's modern city faces many challenges. For most cities, these challenges often lead to smart city discussions that are focused on infrastructure modernization, operational cost savings, revenue creation or enhanced citizen engagement. But the most advanced cities are recognizing that one of the biggest challenges – economic development – is also a smart city opportunity. Cities that adopt a smarter, holistic view with a pragmatic approach can unlock tremendous economic value in their community by building next generation, multi-stakeholder smart city platforms that support and fuel economic growth. In this workshop, participants will learn:

  • How to think about economic development and smart city deployments in today's global economy that are competing for opportunities and workforce talent while delivering a high quality of life to its citizens
  • The essential economic development components that are the most critical for today's modern city
  • How to identify your city's most valuable economic development opportunities / growth assets and compute their economic impact and ROI
  • How to identify the right smart city technologies and initiatives that help support and fuel your most powerful economic growth opportunities
  • How to develop an integrated smart city roadmap that will create measurable return on investment while fostering entrepreneurship, innovation and citizen engagement
  • How to finance these projects through public-private partnerships, government funds and other non-traditional financing mechanisms


About the Instructors

Herb Sih
Managing Partner & Co-Founder
Think Big Partners

Herb Sih serves as Managing Partner, Think Big Partners. He is in charge of managing the day to day operations of Think Big Partners, in addition to working with entrepreneurs, startups, corporations and communities across the country. Think Big Partners is a technology focused hybrid business incubator, startup accelerator, innovation center and collaborative workspace for entrepreneurs. Think Big seeks out high potential entrepreneurs, emerging technologies and early stage startups and provides highly specialized professional services, industry specific consulting and deep market insight to rapidly commercialize good ideas into the marketplace.

Herb has helped numerous organizations over the past 15 years through advice and mentorship in helping develop strategy, build, launch, execution and sales models. Primarily focused on technology driven companies, his special focus is in developing technology and business solutions for complex market environments.

Hunter Johnston
Vice President of Transportation & Mobility
Think Big Partners

Hunter Johnston serves as Vice President of Transportation and Mobility for Think Big Partners. In this role he works with clients and partners to develop mobility strategy and roadmaps that help create novel approaches to the mobility problems facing cities. His team leverages cutting- edge technologies like autonomous vehicles, connected vehicles, and big data to develop new consumer services that enhance the lives of citizens.
Prior to his role at Think Big Partners, Hunter worked for Tesla Motors. There he led teams charged with establishing the brand's market presence in the Midwest by strategically cultivating new markets for expansion and gained extensive knowledge of alternative fuel vehicles and self-driving car technology.


Sarah Fustine
Partner, Operations and Strategic Partnerships
Think Big Partners

Sarah Fustine is a Partner at Think Big Partners. She helped open and operate the first Think Big Coworking location with 18,000sqft in 2010 in Kansas City, Missouri. Five years later, Think Big outgrew and moved that location to a 31,000sqft facility, which Sarah designed and coordinated the historic renovation. After successfully operating the new location for three more years, Think Big Coworking was acquired by another operator in 2018. Along the way, Sarah coordinated programs and conferences for Think Big Partners such as Smart City Tech Summit, Gigabit Challenge, Hackovate Health, iKC: The Unconference and more. Today, Sarah helps other cities, companies and communities become smarter through citizen engagement workshops, economic development consulting and workspace advisory.

Sarah serves as Vice President of the KC Coworking Alliance and speaks at various industry events such as Global Workspace Association’s Coworking Conference, the Global Coworking Unconference Conference and Southern Economic Development Corporation Annual Conference.

As a volunteer, Sarah founded and has co-coordinated Project Homeless Connect KC annually since 2014. She resides in Overland Park, KS with her husband and two young children.


Platinum Sponsor


Silver Sponsors








Bronze Sponsors

Dell EMC
Medef International
Spectrum Enterprise
Sprint Curiosity
Think Big Partners

Premier Partners

Austin Texas
Light Reading

Supporting Organizaitons

Advanced Energy Economy
Austin Tech Alliance
Colorado Smart Cities Alliance
Colorado Smart Cities Alliance
Colorado Technology Association
Cleantech San Diego
Dallas Innovation Alliance
Innovation & Tech Today
etrolab Network
Smart Cities San Diego
University Of Texas
Wi-Fi Alliance

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In partnership with  US Ignite

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