Kansas City, KS

The richest person in Kansas City is giving away millions

Ash Jurberg

I have been writing a series of articles about successful entrepreneurs and business leaders and what these wealthy people do to give back to the community. Readers love to see good news stories about people doing good things.

Today, I thought we would take a quick look at the richest person in Kansas City and his charitable efforts.

The richest person in Kansas City

The richest person in Kansas City is Min Kao.

Min Kao was born in 1949 in Taiwan and graduated from the National Taiwan University before coming to the United States to further his studies. He earned a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1977. While earning his Ph.D., he undertook research for the United States Army and NASA.

In 1989 Kao cofounded Garmin with Garry Burrell. Garmin, a combination of their first names (Gary and Min), developed GPS navigation systems. Kao was responsible for the "breakthrough design and engineering of the GPS software technology that formed the foundation of the original Garmin product line."

Together they grew the business and have brought GPS navigation and wearable technology into many markets, including fitness, automotive, and aviation.

Garmin has $4.2 billion in sales and over 17,000 associates in 80 offices worldwide. Its United States headquarters is in Olathe, Kansas.

The success of Garmin has led to Kao becoming the richest person in Kansas City, with a net worth of $4.4 billion.


Kao has been very generous with his wealth, donating tens of millions of dollars. He has a particular focus on supporting education. Some of his donations include:

  • $17.5 million to the College of Engineering at his alma mater -the University of Tennessee. It was the largest private donation in the school's history.
  • $1 million to the University of Kansas College of Engineering in 2014 to build electrical and computer engineering design labs. He donated a further $1 million in 2015 to construct four more labs.
  • $20 million to the nonprofit hospital, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
"We truly hope this gift will enable Cedars-Sinai to develop a nationally recognized institute that brings lifesaving treatments to those who experience debilitating diseases." Min Kao

In addition, Kao funds a range of engineering scholarships at nine schools across seven states- each ranging up to $8,000 a year.

Readers, what do you think of Min Kao's story, rising from immigrant to billionaire and now philanthropist? What organizations in Kansas City would you like to see him support?

Please leave your comments below.

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