Hey Kansas City, I need your help. I look around town. I have goals, you have goals. Cities, counties, companies, and even charitable organizations have goals. But, KC, BIG KC, Regional KC, doesn’t have any goals….things WE are trying to achieve. With the possible exception of the Royals going .500 or the Chiefs winning a playoff game, I can’t think of enough things that WE want to get done.
This year, the Greater Kansas City Chamber is going to set our Big 5. Five things that we would like to see Regional Kansas City get done in the next 3-5 years. They won’t be general, life style outcomes goals like crime, unemployment, etc., but will be tangible ‘things’ that would make Kansas City a better place to live, play, work, grow a business, and raise a family.
Here’s where you come in. Jim Heeter (Chamber President and CEO) and I want to know what your ‘thing’ is or, better yet, your Big 5.
Let me give you a terrific example: The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City, led by Harlan Brownlee, is already working on a great concept for an annual 16-day regional arts festival they’re calling ArtCopia. Their idea or variations of it have been coming up non-stop in The Chamber ‘no bad ideas’ meetings as something we should get behind. ArtCopia is, in my opinion, a perfect example of what we’re talking about—-A Big Regional Idea but not yet A Big Thing.
Your “thing’ doesn’t have to be new but it has to be big.
Ideas don’t have to be Chamber led. My best guess is that 2 of the Big 5 will become new Chamber initiatives and the other 3 will be Big Things that the Chamber will help make a success to the extent and to the ability we can and organizers want.
I mentioned above our ‘No Bad Ideas’ meetings. We’re planning 21 of them with about 250 participants. We’ve had 10 as of today and they have been incredibly diverse, not to mention fun. One day two weeks ago, we met with some of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties’ most important leaders, including the Mayors of Leawood, Shawnee, Mission, Overland Park, Olathe, and Kansas City, KS. We were also joined by new Johnson County Chair Ed Eilert. The very next day we met with a group of central city leaders chaired by Urban League CEO Gwen Grant to discuss Big Thing Ideas for disenfranchised areas of the urban core. The meetings were different but were both full of energy AND ideas.
OK KC, back to where you come in. We want your ‘thing’ or ‘things.’ And we have lots of options for you. 1. Go to the Chamber Website. Find the “5” right there on the front page and give us your thoughts. 2. Write Jim or me personally. 3. Write a Letter to the Editor or finally, 4. Call us live on 980 KMBZ next Wednesday, May 4.
Start with this: Hey Jim and Greg, what I’d like see our Regional City get done in the next 3-5 years IS _______. My only request: Be Specific.
I love this town. Give it ambitions. Help me.
(This guest editorial was originally published in The Kansas City Business Journal, April 29, 2011.)