Posts Tagged ‘Greg Graves’

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.


KC to Indy Day Two

October 4, 2010

October 4, 2010

Kristi Smith Wyatt, Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Policy Development

Day two of The Chamber’s Leadership  Exchange #8 to Indianapolis continued on a high note.  The day began atop the beautiful Skyline Club which overlooked the city for as far as the eye could see. 

Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard opened the day’s program with a special greeting and message about his city and what makes it successful.  The former Marine said, “Indianapolis is very good at bringing the private, non-profit and public sectors together to get things done.  One of the best things about being the mayor of Indy – every day I see someone or some group doing the best for others.” 

He sees the value of sister cities and international relationships because he says if you don’t see the global economy coming, you’re going to get run over by it.

On Day Two, the delegation woke up to breakfast with the Indianapolis Mayor and a discussion of the city’s vision and sports strategy. Here’s Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm, Prairie Village Mayor Ron Shaffer, Mission Mayor Laura McConwell, Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard, Leawood Mayor Peggy Dunn, and KCK/Wyandotte County Unified Government Mayor Joe Reardon.

 The morning’s panel on “City Vision, Strategy and Leadership in the World’s Amateur Sports Capital” was kicked off by Ted Boehm, former CEO of the Indianapolis Sports Corporation and retired Indiana Supreme Court Justice who said, in 1975 there was an agreement that three things were needed: 1) repopulate the central business district; 2) build a major university; and, 3) develop people-generators.  And they settled on sports as a way to accomplish these goals.  “Sports set the bar that Indy can do whatever it wants to do as long as the city is pulling together,” Boehm said.

Susan Williams, current president of the Indiana Sports Corporation said sports changed the way we looked at ourselves.  Further, sports is a vehicle for attracting and attaining young talent to help grow strong roots in the community. 

Allison Melangton, CEO, 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee, described the city’s process for their successful bid for the Super Bowl, which entailed securing $25 million of commitment with no promise of anything in return.  120 companies comprised the bid pack with contributions ranging from $10,000 to $2.5 M. 

Monday afternoon found half the delegation on a bus tour of the affluent Indy suburb of Carmel, Indiana, led by its charismatic Mayor Jim Brainard. Carmel boasts the sixth highest per capita income of any city in the United States.

Comments from the Kansas City contingency included one from Hannes Zacharias, county manager of Johnson County, Kansas, who said “I hope our vision exceeds our current grasp.”   Denise Kruse, president of AdamsGabbert, added “Don’t wait for the ‘Big Event’ to engage our young people.”

Later at Indy’s historic Union Station (which pales in comparison to KC’s) we heard from two former deputy mayors… John Krauss and Steve Campbell.  In 1976 there were 60 governmental units in Marion County.  Uni-Gov, the consolidation of Indianapolis with Marion County, was approved by the state legislature in 1969 and adopted by Marion County in 1970 for the purpose of improved and more efficient service delivery.   School districts in Marion County are not consolidated…they have 11. 

Two young civic leaders, Michael Huber, deputy mayor for economic development to the current mayor and David Lewis, an executive with Eli Lilly and Company spoke about the Indy model for public-private collaboration.   They highlighted the establishment of a team of experts from area companies who volunteer their time to troubleshoot on thorny issues and help local governments improve process an procedures.  They reportedly saved the city $400,000 by streamlining the city’s bus pick-up and drop-off procedures.   

The discussion about the combined sewer issue in Indy sounded familiar.  Recently the city entered into a consent agreement with EPA for $3.1 B which was a considerable reduction from the original estimate.  A lively discussion on the cost of correcting combined sewers was summed up by Clint Robinson, of Black and Veatch who said “the solution to pollution is dilution.”

Later this afternoon, 50 attendees visited the affluent city of Carmel, north of Indianapolis, on a tour led by Mayor Jim Brainard.  Carmel has the sixth-highest per capita income in the U.S.  It was also the home of The Palladium, a 1,600 seat performing arts center that serves the region.

Don Welsh, president of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association and Scott Blalock, GM of the JW Marriott, discussed the success of the tourism industry in Indy.  Clearly investment in the infrastructure is way ahead of the pay-off to the city.  Tourism in Indy amounts to over $9 B.  The new jewel of downtown, a 1,005-room J.W. Marriott convention hotel will open in February.  The city is hoping that quality hotel availability combined with the sports focus and clear city vision will continue to bring meetings, conventions, and tourists to their city.  Rick Hughes, CEO of the KC Convention and Visitors Association remarked on Indy’s success and noted that KC had not had any significant addition or major improvement to its hotel properties for over 20 years.

Sly James of the Sly James Law Firm, Justice Ted Boehm, former CEO of the Indianapolis Sports Commission and retired Indiana Supreme Court Justice, and Mike Burke of King Hershey, continued the day’s discussion at the Big Kids Reception and Dinner at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum sponsored by Burns & McDonnell.

Burns and McDonnell, represented by president and CEO Greg Graves, welcomed Leadership Exchange participants and guests to the dinner his company graciously hosted.  Held at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the dinner was fun and festive and guests wandered through the facility, the world’s largest and considered by experts to be the nation’s finest and most successful, with a budget of $25 M; 250 employees; established in 1925.

It was a memorable day.  Indianapolis has truly made most of its assets through community collaboration and a united vision.  Tomorrow – Day 3.

Read more about The Chamber’s Leadership Exchange, KC to Indy, Day One blog >>

Read more about The Chamber’s Leadership Exchange, KC to Indy, Day Three blog >>

KC to Indy – Chamber Leadership Exchange # 8

September 29, 2010

September 29, 2010

Kristi Smith Wyatt, Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Policy Development

Early Sunday morning, while the sun is just rising, 100 civic leaders from the area will meet at MCI to depart on The Chamber’s 2010 Leadership Exchange.  Seems like just yesterday, The Chamber began the Leadership Exchange program with a trip to Pittsburg in 2003, followed by trips to San Diego, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Seattle, Nashville, and Denver.       

Each year, The Chamber chooses a city to visit and study best practices, with an eye on bringing those ideas and initiatives for consideration back to Kansas City.  Business, not-for-profit executives, area mayors, area Chamber leaders participate.  This year, the trip includes approximately 22 members of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, led by Burns & McDonnell Chairman & CEO Greg Graves who chairs the trip and becomes the chair of The Chamber in four weeks.   

Graves and The Chamber’s board chose Indy for good reasons and the decision was complicated.  Some “older” Kansas Citians still sting at Indy’s success at attracting – away from Kansas City – the NCAA in 1999.  And then there’s the FFA who also departed Kansas City in 1999 for Louisville, and now resides in Indianapolis.  Some sentimental Kansas Citians, like me, miss the fresh-faced, young students in thier blue jackets moving around downtown each autumn for their annual meeting.  

But there is a reason why many U.S. cities have visited Indy in trips similar to ours the past several years. Even St. Louis, our sister city to the east, took their civic leaders there earlier this year.  Over the past 3-4 decades, Indianapolis civic leaders have been smart, strategic, and unified in setting forth their vision. Here’s a sampling of some of the developments that make Indy so appealing and successful. 

  •  The downtown is in the midst of a multi-billion dollar construction boom that might be the  largest in the nation for cities in their peer group.
  • Indy will host the 2012 Super Bowl.  They raised $25 million to produce the bid.  Today, more than 8,000 volunteers are working to make that event a success.
  • City-County government was consolidated in 1970.  Named Uni-Gov, the reforms continue and area leaders credit the move for much of the success the city is realizing today. 
  • Indy has moved from 33rd to 16th in the convention market, mostly because of the expansion of the convention center adding 420,000 square feet to the mix; for a total of 1.2 million sq. ft.

Additionally a $450 million, privately financed J.W. Marriott hotel will open soon with over 1,000 rooms –the scope of convention hotel  Kansas City leaders have been working toward.  

So there will be much to learn in Indy. And it wouldn’t be possible without the generous assistance of the following sponsors:

Tune in for next week’s blog – to hear about lessons learned!