Posts Tagged ‘Big KC’

The Big 5 Ideas and Their Champions

September 16, 2011

September 16, 2011

Chamber President and CEO James A. Heeter

Chamber Chair Greg Graves pushed the ‘send’ button on an email seven months ago, and that’s what started the journey to the Big 5. He asked 17 friends to convene a “no bad ideas” meeting to talk about goals for the region. I still have that email, in which Greg writes, “Jim Heeter and I either like you, respect you, fear you, or think you’ll offer a unique perspective. I’ll let you guess on that one.”

We wound up convening two dozen meetings, with still more ideas gathered through The Chamber website, during radio appearances, via email and letters and just being buttonholed on the street.

It took seven months to get to the Big 5 – seven months of meetings and discussion with people from all over the KC region, all of them passionate about improving this place we all call home. Our first list of big ideas numbered 182. Here – in no particular order – are the final Big 5:

1.       The World’s Symposium on Animal Health — Champion:  Gary Forsee

The KC Animal Health Corridor, situated between Columbia, Missouri, and Manhattan, Kansas, already boasts the single largest concentration of animal health interests in the world. In fact, KC area companies account for nearly 32 percent of total sales in the $19 billion global animal health market. Holding a global symposium cements the image of the Corridor as THE center for animal health.

2.       The Urban Core Neighborhood Initiative —Champion:  Terry Dunn, JE Dunn Construction

Spurring economic development, preventing violence, improving education in the urban core were ideas that came up at many of the Big 5 meetings. Dunn and Stewart are already meeting with key leadership, organizations and foundations, and hope to have a strategic plan within the next 90 to 120 days.

3.       The Making of America’s Most Entrepreneurial City — Champion:  Peter deSilva, UMB Bank

We’ve got the assets and the history, and, like the Urban Core initiative, entrepreneurship was another consistent idea in our meetings. As deSilva says, better to grow our own rather than try to woo fickle corporations to locate here. Business growth and job creation aren’t coming from the big guys these days; they’re coming from entrepreneurs and small businesses

4.        The KC Regional Translational Research Institute — Champion:  Dr. Patrick James, Quest Diagnostics

The overarching goal here is to make KC a nationally-recognized center for translational research. The five year goal is to raise $60 million to triple the recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) granted to area researchers. “This could be transformative,” Dr. James says. “It’s a force for further economic collaboration… and an engine for economic growth that will touch all parts of our regional economy.”

5.       The New UMKC Downtown Conservatory — Champion:  Leo Morton, UMKC

This “Big Idea” calls for relocating the renowned UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance to a new downtown location. Currently the Conservatory is housed on the UMKC campus in three different buildings that require extensive renovation. By moving the campus downtown, it leverages new and existing assets including the Kauffman Performing Arts Center and the Crossroads Arts District, and grows Downtown.

So, that’s the list. It was, I admit, hard to get to the final five. There were a lot of great ideas from which to choose. But we believe these five goals will create jobs and build a greater community for all of us.

It’s up to the Champions to come up with their plans for implementation. Incoming Chamber Chair Frank Ellis promises regular updates as to our progress on each. So stay tuned – and thanks to all of you who shared your ideas with us.

This has been fun. Now the hard work starts.

Check out the Big 5 in the news and the videos from the Big 5 roll out on ChamberTV.

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.

Check ’em out – 182 Big Ideas for “Big KC”

July 6, 2011

July 6, 2011

Chamber President and CEO James A. Heeter

First of all, thanks to those of you who sent us their Big Ideas for Big KC. Talk about creativity and passion – the ideas we got through this website covered a range of issues and opportunities. You’ll find those suggestions among the 182 Big Ideas we’ve collected, posted here.

This all started when we began asking the question, “If you were CEO of “Big KC” – the region – what would your goals be?” Chamber Chair Greg Graves and I met with civic leaders and CEOs, minority representatives and mayors, and proponents for arts, transit and trails, and urban KC. More ideas came via the Web and call-in talk shows.

I have to admit – it’s been great fun.

Greg and I have also seen a real desire at all the meetings for true regional collaboration and determined action. People want to find ways to work above the state line.

The ideas we’ve collected are fascinating. Here’s just a sample:

  • Create and pass an initiative petition to triple Missouri’s existing cigarette tax (now the lowest in the nation at 17 cents a pack; the national average is $1.45 per pack) and use new money for a variety of good purposes.  (The current 17 cents/pack raises approximately $63 million annually).
  • Develop a coalition to attract retail – a “big box” and/or grocery store – within the central city, eliminating “food deserts” within the urban core, saving residents money, and fostering further economic development.
  • Convene a year-long process to study the feasibility, costs, and interest in building a light rail system and make a final decision one way or the other.

Here’s our next step: On Tuesday, July 12, The Chamber will hold an all-day session to bring the list to a more manageable number. The process will be led by Michael Gallis, an internationally-known expert in large-scale metropolitan regional development strategies. (Michael’s clients include cities and regions such as Detroit, Charlotte, Orlando, Cincinnati, and Memphis.)

At the end of the day, we’ll have a shorter list to take to The Chamber Board for final consideration. We have no idea what will be on the list – the ideas may be as originally presented or a new amalgam of several proposals.

Next Tuesday promises to be a thought-provoking and interesting day.  We’ll keep you posted.

To read the 182 Big Ideas, click here.