According to the Kansas City Chinese Journal, a Chinese cultural community existed in Kansas City prior to World War II. The early arrivals were mostly men working as laborers. The journal notes that, “… about four hundred Chinese were living in Kansas City, Missouri, most of them were bachelors from the Siyi district or ‘four counties’ in Guangdong province (Taishan, Xinhui, Kaiping and Enping). They were concentrated in the laundry, restaurant and grocery businesses and in traditional Chinese medicine as well. More than 30 hand laundries, 20 restaurants, three grocery stores and three doctors of Chinese medicine were protected by the chief community organization, On Leong.”
The Journal further notes that the Chinese population fell sharply after the war, when most Chinese moved to the coasts or returned to China. In the 1960s, a new wave of immigrants arrived, most employed as scientists and technicians in area medical institutions like University of Kansas Medical Center and the Midwest Research Center at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Other Chinese professionals, architects, engineers, professors, accountants and entrepreneurs eventually joined the community.
In 1966, about 150 Chinese gathered to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Out of that event grew the Kansas City Chinese Association., which has since become the dominant community organization responsible for the Chinese New Year celebrations and other cultural activities.
The relatively recent arrival of South Asian immigrants is adding a strong cultural contribution to the metropolitan area. Many of the new arrivals, a strong professional class, are lured by the availability of high-tech jobs by such firms as Garmin, Embarq and Sprint, as well as the blossoming health sciences opportunities in such companies as Cerner and the Stowers Institute.