Author Archive

Next Steps for the Big 5

July 26, 2011

July 26, 2011

E. Frank Ellis, Chairman & CEO Swope Community Enterprises, and The Chamber's First Vice-Chair

Dreaming of what can be has been an enjoyable experience, but now comes the hard part.

As you know, we’re working to determine The Chamber’s “Big 5” goals for the region. We started by asking the question, “If you were CEO of ‘Big KC,’ what goals would you set?” We collected ideas from the Web and from about two dozen meetings with elected, civic, and business leaders across the region.

On July 12, we held an all-day session where many of those same people helped us pare the list to 20 Big Ideas. It was no easy task, but the discussions were both thoughtful and animated. (Here’s a link to a video from the seven-hour session and a small photo gallery of the day.)

Now we’re preparing for August 29, when The Chamber Board will make the final decision. Chamber Chair Greg Graves has assigned me the task leading a task force to handle the next phase of the process.

The group will include the 24 community leaders who convened our original “No Bad Ideas” sessions. The easy part, I think, will be selecting the “Big 5” ideas we’ll recommend to the Board. More difficult but critical will be quantifying what success looks like.

We also need to find a “Big Champion” for each of the ideas. For some of the ideas, it may be appropriate for The Chamber to take the lead, but there are some initiatives on the list that are already underway. In those cases, our role will be to bring to bear the not-insubstantial resources of the regional business community.

That’s the plan. We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Hey KC—–Give Me Your Big 5

May 9, 2011

Greg Graves, Chairman and CEO of Burns & McDonnell, and The Chamber's 2011 Chairman

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.)

Industry Experts Provide Preview of Big DC Changes

December 2, 2010

Cathy Bennett, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy, The Chamber

December 2, 2010

Written by: Cathy Bennett, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber and its Federal Affairs Committee today hosted noted issue experts for thumbnail briefings on five key federal issues likely to be handled during the 112th Congress. Below is a summary of what these experts said we might expect and watch for in each of these important business areas. One thing is clear: change is in the air.

Healthcare: Dr. Marcia Nielsen, Vice Chancellor, KU Medical Center
Among the many proposals for how to deal with the new healthcare Act (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), Marci said the most referred to options include:
1. Repeal (highly unlikely with the President’s looming veto),
2. Replace (some portions may be replaced or retooled), and
3. “Rut-Ro” (get the reference to the forlorn Jetson’s dog Astro)

The 3 strongest options for addressing the new healthcare reform package include:
• Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Road Map”
• Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission proposal
• Rivlin-Domencini “Restoring America’s Future Debt Reduction Task Force.”
All three of these plans include a significant reform of malpractice liability and varying major modifications to Medicare.

Transportation: Bob Cook, Vice President of Government Relations, HNTB
Bob’s presentation was perhaps the most alarming of the day. Four pages of notes on the needs, obstacles reduced support for transit. Below are the highlights.
• The current transportation bill expired in September 2009 and has had five short term extensions since then. The current extension expires December 31. We will likely see another short term extension before the year’s end.
• If we keep using the existing transportation plan (Highway Bill), and current gas tax funding mechanism, we will run out of funds by 2013.
• What to watch for in a new transportation bill:

  • No gas tax increase
  • Focus on public-private partnerships
  • Emphasize state flexibility
  • Decrease emphasis on quality of life enhancements
  • Transit funding is in jeopardy with possible exception of the northeast
  • Decreased support for passenger rail
  • Possible increase or no change on support for freight rail

When asked what are the likely revenue streams for a new transportation plan, Cook said Congress will be more likely to allow expansion of tolling than to allow an increase in the gas tax.

Economic Security: Brian Klippenstein, Chief of Staff, Senator Kit Bond
As Klippenstein moves over to Senator-Elect Roy Blunt’s staff it is reassuring to have his knowledge and experience working for our region.
• The lame duck session is essentially the last opportunity for earmarks which will see a two year sabbatical while many learn the value that can be derived from these key appropriations that fund roads, revitalization, job training, and more.
• Bush Tax Cuts will likely see a 1 or 2 year extension voted on December 16, the last night before 2010 adjournment.
• The debt ceiling will go up again in early 2011 and has been increased about 11 times since 1996.

Energy: Mike Poling, Government Affairs Manager, KCP&L
Click here for link to Energy presentation
• Cap and Trade and carbon tax proposals are dead
• New energy policy will likely come in smaller chunks and no big omnibus package
• Top energy issues we should watch for in 112th Congress:
o Nuclear energy
o Renewable energy
o Energy efficiencies
o Clean coal
o Aggressive EPA oversight
o Defunding some EPA regulations
o Budget constraints
o Safe drilling

Small Business Policy and Regulation: Kevin Sweeney, Partner, Polsinelli Shughart
Click here for link to Small Business presentation
• Power struggle brewing for chairmanship of House Small Business committee with Sam Graves likely to prevail
• Biggest issues impacting Small Business in 2011

  • Extension of Bush Tax Cuts (increased tax burden on small biz= $3.8 trillion)
  • Repeal of 1099 Requirements/Health Care Act of 2010
  • Small Business Capital Bill ($30 Billion lending fund for community banks and leveraging $300 Billion in lending to entrepreneurs)
  • Innovative Technologies Investment Act (federal tax credit for tech and bio)
  • Regulatory Reform (FDA, food safety, patent reform)

The insightful, if not uplifting, panel concluded with these words of wisdom for the KC region and Chamber as we craft the 2011 Federal Public Policy Agenda.
• “You need to present congressional members with options” when it comes to talking about needs.”
• “We all are going to have to defer the good life at least for a while when it comes to local investment”.
• “Practice the 4 P’s: prioritize, promote, press on and pray.”

Centurions Learn, Serve, and Lead Through Law & Order Task Force

November 17, 2010

November 17, 2010

 

Catherine McComb, Centurions and Government Relations

He’s coming right for me.

That’s my thought as I watch a four-year-old German shepherd that looks to be solid muscle run at full speed in the direction of the bleachers where I and a group of about 75 members of The Chamber’s Centurions Leadership Program are sitting.

Centurions are a group of young business leaders who care about greater Kansas City and its future. They are highly successful, highly motivated, and a lot of fun. Each month, they plan and participate in task forces structured around key issues in Kansas City, such as politics, transportation, and health care. This month, their Law & Order Task Force delved in the issues surrounding the legal system, crime, and our police force – including the canine unit.

Which brings us back to the dog. He jumps into the air, less than six feet from me. Luckily, there is a police officer just in front of the bleachers where I and the Centurions are sitting. And it’s the padded sleeve on his arm, not me, that the dog is after. Whew.

In reality, there wasn’t much reason for me to worry. Police officers have been kind enough to host this demonstration to show us just how well-trained the dog is – he is trained to find illegal drugs and to protect himself and his officer in the field.

Centurions Task Force member Susie Morris of American Century Investments introduces speaker Tiffany Murphy of the Midwestern Innocence Project.

It’s been quite a day, to say the least. Before the canine demonstration, the group heard from Tiffany Murphy, executive director of the Midwestern Innocence Project, about how her team of students, faculty, and volunteers work to exonerate innocent prisoners. Two FBI agents discussed how our region’s state line means they are involved in solving interstate crimes in Kansas and Missouri.

We toured the beautiful Charles Evans Whittaker U.S. Courthouse, one of only three in the country where bankruptcy and district cases are combined under one clerk. We learned about Missouri’s judicial system from someone who would know: the Honorable Duane Benton, former Missouri Supreme Court chief justice and current justice on Missouri’s Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. And we toured the Jackson County Detention Center. Tour guides gave us a glimpse into the typical day in the life of a prisoner there, who may be convicted of or awaiting trial for any number of crimes.

After the canine demonstration, we head to the Jackson County Courthouse, where Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders tells us how much the detention center has improved, and how much more efficient it has become. Finally, Kansas City Missouri Police Chief Jim Corwin discusses crime in Kansas City and how the police force responds to it. Centurions have plenty of questions for all our speakers – and their willingness to be candid with the group is one of the reasons these events are so valuable.

The group has learned a lot today, but learning is just one part of the Centurions experience. The most important part of any task force day is discovering how to continue their learning and extend it into service and leadership.

For example, Centurions will volunteer later this month at a fundraiser benefiting the Kansas City Crime Foundation’s Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund. They will also see leadership firsthand when they experience a ride-along with a Kansas City, Missouri, police officer.

The two-year program is packed with times like these: hands-on in the community, up close with influential leaders, and a lot of fun to experience with a network of other civic-minded individuals.

Applications for the Centurions program are accepted annually on June 1. For more information about, go to www.centurions.org.

Overcoming The Challenges of Acting Regionally in Greater Kansas City

October 11, 2010

October 11, 2010
Peter deSilva, 2010 Chamber Chairman and President and COO of UMB Financial Corporation

2010 Chamber Chairman Peter deSilva, Chairman & COO of UMB Financial Corporation

I just returned from The Chamber’s Leadership exchange Trip to Indianapolis.  It was another great trip to a city much like our own.  There was much to see and do like their world class children’s museum, the planned city of Carmel, their beautifuly restored Union Station and a vibrant downtown.  There were also the usual talks about efforts at regionalism.  While Indianapolis has certainly made great progress since the consolidation of the city and county in their UNIGOV structure in 1970, as they admitted, there is still much more work to do to make their community even more unified and successful on the global stage.

I was particularly impressed with the current and past political leadership especially former Indianapolis mayor Bill Hudnut who served from 1976 – 1992.  He is still revered in the community for his bold vision and long -term strategy for Indianapolis.  One of the things that he said which caught my attention was his vision that Indianapolis would be a competitive, collaborative and compassionate city.  Throughout the three days, we saw evidence of all three of these attributes at work.  He also talked about their regional approach and the success and failures in that regard.  That got me thinking about our own challenges with regionalism.

As I sat and listened to the mayor along other speakers, something struck me and I began to write words down on a piece of paper.  Words like communication and collaboration began to pop into my head.  I began to think about how regionalism has always been a daunting challenge in greater Kansas City.  Then I realized that maybe we needed a progression, a sequencing to our efforts.  It was not long before I came up with the four C’s for effective regionalism in greater Kansas City.

The four C’s are: Communication, Cooperation, Coordination, and Collaboration.  Think about this as a pyramid with communication at the bottom and collaboration at the top.  It struck me that many of our regional efforts have started with discussions about complex collaboration while we were not even effectively communicating with each other.  The reason that you must start at the bottom of the pyramid with communication is because in order to be successful at the top, you must have an essential ingredient that is sometimes in short supply in our community and that is trust.  Trust of course must be earned and it can only be earned by progressing upward through the four C’s.  Without trust, we will be doomed to failure on major regional initiatives.

So I go to thinking about what our political, civic and business leaders could do to begin to change all of this.  Well, maybe we could start with dialogue (communication) about what the big regional issues are without any preconceived solutions.  It would be great if the mayor’s of let’s say two big cities on either side of the state line convened a mayor’s conference to talk about significant regional matters.  Topics like wastewater treatment, air quality, transportation, public safety, and linking our sustainability efforts might be a good starting point since all of these are regional issues that will take regional solutions.  If this meeting were held and it were deemed successful, maybe we would then be in a position to take the next step and find ways to cooperate on these matters and many more.  Who knows how far we might actually go up the pyramid of the four C’s if we just give it a try.  I, for one hope that we do.

Chamber’s Kansas City Missouri Business Leadership Council Committed to Kansas City

August 4, 2010

Ken Hager, CFO of DST and Chair of the KCMO Business Leadership Council

GUEST AUTHOR:
Ken Hager, CFO of DST and Chair of the KCMO Business Leadership Council

The Chamber is always engaged in Kansas City, Missouri issues and is committed to representing the 1,155 member companies in Kansas City, Missouri.

With the release of this week’s Analysis of Kansas City’s Deferred Maintenance and Capital Improvements needs, The Chamber highlights the growing problem of deferring infrastructure improvements in Kansas City, Missouri. To be fair, this is not just a Kansas City problem; older municipalities throughout the nation are struggling to maintain their existing infrastructure.  However, maintaining our infrastructure is critically important for Kansas City Missouri to be able to attract business and residents. 

We formed the Kansas City Missouri Business Leadership Council in 2007 for the express purpose of having one group made up of Chamber Board members and other senior business leaders who have a commitment to Kansas City, Missouri, and who meet monthly to discuss pressing issues.  We delve into the City’s finances, read and submit input on the City’s annual budget, listen and comment on new City initiatives, and meet with City elected and appointed leaders. 

The City’s finances have long been an important issue. The Deferred Maintenance Report includes a number of recommendations, including revenue options the cash-strapped City should consider:

  • The City must do a better job of collections on all its taxes.
  • The City’s employee pension programs must be addressed.  We believe that the current approach cannot be maintained.  Steps similar to what the Missouri assembly took recently are needed to stem the growth in employee pensions, which continues to take a disproportional share of funding, ultimately limiting the number of employees the City will be able to maintain.
  •  The City should explore utilizing Neighborhood Improvement District (NIDs) or Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) to allow neighborhoods to fund local capital projects.
  • All current and upcoming tax renewals should be evaluated before embarking on any new tax initiatives.

The Chamber’s Jamie Green, who is Director of Government of Relations and Policy Development, drafted the initial report, followed by months of discussion and work by the Committee.  This is the fourth report on deferred maintenance authored by the Chamber since 1993.

The KCMO Business Leadership Council will continue to be engaged in Kansas City Missouri issues, looking out for the interests of our Chamber members and the region.

Approve Incentive Package for Ford Motor Company

June 21, 2010

2010 Chamber Chairman Peter deSilva, Chairman & CEO of UMB Bank N.A.

From:

Peter deSilva
Chair, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
(Resident of Kansas City, MO)

As Chair of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, I’d like to express my thanks and appreciation to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s decision to call a special session of the Missouri Legislature to consider an incentive package to help retain Ford Motor Company’s Claycomo plant.

The Claycomo Ford plant employs 4300 local men and women – and those jobs are at risk.   The Chamber has been working closely with the governor, area legislators and with a task force focused on keeping those men and women employed.

To say that we were disappointed by the Missouri legislature’s failure to enact any economic development bill, much less the incentives designed to keep Claycomo’s lines running, is an understatement.  Though economic indicators are improving, there is still distance to travel on the road to recovery.  In these difficult times, Missouri’s political leadership has an obligation to keep and create jobs. 

The Claycomo plant has a long history on the Kansas City landscape, opening in 1951 for military production during the Korean War, converting to auto assembly in 1956, opening in 1957 as a Ford assembly plant.  At one time, Missouri was second only to Detroit in automotive-related jobs.  Currently, the plant manufactures the Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, and F-150 pickup. 

Ford has announced it intends to end production of the Mariner and Escape at Claycomo, perhaps as early as next summer.  There’s been no announcement, however, of any new lines planned for production at the plant – and that’s troubling.

This is about jobs – and more.  By some accounts, the plant is the largest tax-generator in Clay County, providing substantial funding for the Liberty and North Kansas City Schools.   According to information gathered by the task force, the Claycomo plant has economic ripples affecting 113 of the 114 counties in Missouri, with at least one company in each doing business with the plant. 

Claycomo has been called the largest automobile manufacturing plant in the U.S. in number of vehicles produced. 

  • The plant is the region’s #1 manufacturing employer and the ninth largest employer overall.
  •  A full-time manufacturing job supports roughly two other jobs, so Claycomo jobs indirectly support nearly 9,000 other employees throughout the metro area.
  • In large part thanks to Ford, the Kansas City area has retained the fourth-highest percentage of manufacturing jobs among 37 metro areas The Chamber is tracking in its Regional Competitiveness Database
  • In May, the F-series truck ranked 1st in vehicle sales nationwide, and the Escape ranked 12th. Year-to-date through May, F-series truck sales were up 34.9 percent, while Escape sales were up 36.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the silence from Ford – so far – as to the company’s plans for Claycomo is worrisome.  That’s why The Chamber is hosting Ford CEO Alan Mulally at a special luncheon here on September 16.     We think there’s a good story to tell, including Claycomo’s consistently high productivity numbers.   We’re also interested in hearing what Mr. Mulally has to say.

The Chamber urges Missouri legislators to quickly approve the appropriate incentive package to keep those 4300 jobs.  This is too important to our regional economy, our businesses and our people.

From the Chairman: What NCI Designation Means to You – and to Greater KC

May 24, 2010

2010 Chamber Chairman Peter deSilva, Chairman & CEO of UMB Bank N.A.

Take a look only at the financial bottom line and here’s what it will mean when the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) achieves NCI Designated Cancer Center status:

  • 9,400 new and permanent jobs;
  • $1.3 billion in annual benefits, through construction, licensing revenues, and cancer mortality reductions;
  • Federal research grants to KUMC’s Cancer Center would grow from $43 million to $80 million annually. *

Most importantly, it would mean our residents, friends, and neighbors could stay in Kansas City to get the highest quality care in the country.  I remember when a UMB associate who contracted cancer had to travel regularly to MD Anderson.  I recall with vividness the additional financial, emotional and clinical challenges it created for him and his family.  This should not be necessary when we have KU Medical Center right here in our community.  And with a little luck, and a lot of hard work this situation will change over the next few years.

What is NCI Designation?

National Cancer Institute Designation is the gold standard in cancer research.  It’s given to those institutions that are national leaders in research, treatment, and education.  And it’s not an easy designation to achieve.

KUMC began its efforts toward NCI designation in 2004.  Plans are to formally apply in September 2011, with a goal of earning the designation by spring 2012.

The Med Center is certainly on its way.  According to the Five-Year Update to the Community Foundation’s Time to Get It Right plan, KUMC has increased the level of its sponsored research support by 29 percent, expanded its faculty and graduate student ranks, and developed important research and training affiliation agreements with other major medical centers in the Kansas City area. 

The report concludes:  “KUMC remains on track to apply for and achieve NCI Designated Cancer Center status in the next several years.”

How is business involved?

Because of the importance of this designation for the entire metropolitan region, rivalries between other hospitals have been put aside to make this a reality.  Hospitals, foundations, corporations, and civic organizations all recognize the benefits NCI designation would bring to our community.

The Chamber is one of those civic organizations doing its part.  And it fits perfectly with the three goals of our 2010 Strategic Plan:

Job Creation:  9,400 new jobs over the next 10 years.  That’s a goal we can all support.  Right now, The Chamber is partnering with the Full Employment Council to help develop new workers for this burgeoning field.  (Details to come.)

Advocacy and Collaboration:  As the voice of Kansas City area business, The Chamber has put our considerable advocacy efforts behind the NCI designation effort.   But we’re not alone – the Civic Council, Kansas City Area Development Council, and others are working toward the same goal.

Quality of Life:  This is a no-brainer.  NCI designation means leading-edge research and technology will be close at hand and readily available to those who are suffering from cancer.  It means those patients can participate in early clinical trials testing new treatments.  And it means they can get the care they need at home.

NCI designation is an important part of the (again) collaborative and overall effort to grow the region’s life sciences.  Combined with the resources of the Stowers Institute and the KC Animal Health Corridor, NCI designation will provide a significant step forward for our community.  I hope you will do whatever you can to support the effort.

*Perryman Group, 2005

From the Chairman, 4/19/2010

April 19, 2010

2010 Chamber Chairman Peter deSilva, Chairman & CEO of UMB Bank N.A.

When I agreed to become Chair of The Chamber, I had no idea my responsibilities would include the search – after nearly 20 years – for new Chamber leadership.  (Why couldn’t longtime President Pete Levi wait till NEXT year when Greg Graves would have had to deal with it!)

I’m happy to report that the new Chamber President and CEO, Jim Heeter, starts on the job today, Monday, April 19.  I speak for the entire Board when I say we appreciate his background, outlook, and experience, and anticipate great things going forward. 

I also want to give a deeply-felt ‘thank you’ to Kristi Smith Wyatt, The Chamber’s Senior VP for Government Relations and, for the last 3 ½ months, the organization’s Interim President.  To say that she has handled the job with grace, wisdom, and humor is an understatement.  And she did so while juggling the many demands of her usual job – working with federal and state elected officials and promoting key Chamber positions.

The 3-month-plus interim period also proved something else:  Chamber staff and leadership comprise a well-oiled machine that can keep itself running.   My deep appreciation to all of you.

An important piece of that machinery has now been added, and we’re anticipating great things in the months ahead.   Our goals are simple:

  • Quality jobs and economic growth;
  • Advocacy and collaboration; and
  • Best place to live and work.

The poll we commissioned earlier this year for The Chamber’s annual Governors’ Summit told us Kansas and Missouri voters look first to the business community to solve their problems.  That’s a responsibility we’re taking seriously.  And now our leadership is firmly in place. 

Onward…

Chamber Chair Peter deSilva Shares His Thoughts on the Selection of Jim Heeter as Chamber President/CEO

March 3, 2010

Chamber Chair of the Board, Peter deSilva, Chairman & CEO of UMB Bank N.A.

Some days in the business world are just better than others – and having the opportunity to announce the hiring of Jim Heeter ranks right up there as one of my best professional days ever. There is no greater pleasure than knowing you’ve found just the right person, at the right time, for the right job, in this case, the new President and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

We have great challenges ahead of us to deliver against our strategic plan, and Jim has the experience, relationships and familiarity with the Kansas City region to make it happen. He has a well deserved reputation for collaboration, integrity and the ability to get things done. Jim served on the KCMO City Council in the 1980s, and, until recently, was the Managing Partner of the Kansas City office of the law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, LLP. Jim has operated at the CEO level, served in government and cares deeply for our community.

Out of hundreds of candidates the search committee considered, Jim was by far the most outstanding candidate to lead The Chamber at this critical moment in time.

I’d also like to thank Kristi Smith Wyatt who has kept momentum going as interim president of The Chamber. The success of the recent Governors’ Summit was a direct result of her direction and insight. Thank you Kristi!

We know that the Summit was a call to collaboration and action. I have great confidence that Jim will lead with the necessary strength and collaborative spirit to bring our business community together to resolve regional issues. I look forward to working with Jim on The Chamber’s 2010 focus as well: creating quality jobs and economic growth; advocacy and collaboration; and making Greater Kansas City the best place to live and work.