SubTropolis Hosts Education Initiative

Exchange City will unveil a brand new, state-of-the art city at Hunt Midwest SubTropolis, the world’s largest underground business complex. Exchange City will share the space with sister program EarthWorks.

“The practical lessons about business and government at Exchange City are invaluable to students,” said Lee Derrough, president and CEO of Hunt Midwest. “We are excited to have Exchange City join EarthWorks here at SubTropolis.” Earthworks has been a SubTropolis tenant since it opened its doors in 1996.

Exchange City is an experiential learning program that teaches fifth through eighth graders about economics, entrepreneurship and the free enterprise system. The curriculum, which correlates with Missouri and Kansas state requirements for math, writing, cultural arts, social studies and technology concepts, combines classroom instruction with a fun-filled, hands-on trip to this mock city.

Exchange City is made up of 15 businesses that are operated by the student “citizens” who take on the role of business entrepreneurs, civic leaders and consumers. EarthWorks uses a similar learning approach to teach about science and ecology. According to Terri Swartz-Shelton, executive director of Exchange City and EarthWorks in Kansas City, having both programs in a single location should help boost enrollment.

The 30,000 sq. ft. space at SubTropolis, which originally housed EarthWorks, accommodates both programs. The consolidation will help cut operational costs and enable Exchange City to “walk the talk” by modeling much of the sustainability curriculum taught to students.

“Our program focuses on the importance of being environmentally conscious,” Swartz-Shelton said. “We want students to learn how businesses can recycle and conserve so we’ve infused the new city with more ‘green’ elements.”

SubTropolis was created through the mining of a 270-million-year-old limestone deposit. This process left a natural limestone foundation, roof and pillars that are three times stronger than concrete and eliminates the need for many raw materials. SubTropolis is truly a “recycled” product. The space produced by the mining technique is ideal for business operations and the limestone that is mined out of the complex is used to build area roads and development.

In addition, SubTropolis’ underground location drastically reduces energy consumption and minimizes the use of natural resources, saving tenants 50% to 70% on climate control costs compared to surface properties.

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