Posts Tagged ‘missouri’

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.

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The Chamber’s Eye on Missouri Tax Credits

September 23, 2010

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

September 22, 2010

Some would say Missouri is awash with tax credits.  In 2009 approximately $600 million in tax credits were authorized by state government.  Legislators and business leaders are concerned  Missouri, facing a $700-million budget deficit, is too generous with tax credits.  Is the return on investment worth the expenditure?  Hopefully,  wise and steady thinking will prevail and the system of tax credits will be revamped, maintaining those helping to grow Missouri’s economy and phasing out those that do not.  Time will tell.

An advisory committee at The Chamber, comprised of various experts and stakeholders, has met the past two months and will guide The Chamber’s policy direction on tax credits and economic incentives  in anticipation of next year’s legislative session.  Missouri has 61 individual credits such as the historic preservation credit, the  low-income housing credit,  the senior citizen property tax, the dry fire hydrant credit, the quality jobs tax credit, the wine and grape production,  and on and on. 

My personal favorite is the film production tax credit, through which, Missouri has been the venue for some or all of the filming of the following movies: Mr. and Mrs. Bridge;  Kansas City; National Lampoon’s Vacation; Paper Moon;  Ride with the Devil;  Planes,  Trains,  and Automobiles, and most recently Up in the Air; and Winter’s Bones. 

The state uses a tax credit of over $4 million a year to attract films to encourage the film business in Missouri. Winter’s Bones has been in Kansas City theatres through the summer.  The low-budget film received $260,000 in credits.  It won the grand prize at the Sundance Film Festival and receives 4 stars from most reviewers.  It feels like a documentary, but it’s not.  It tells a poignant tale of drug-dealing, meth cooking, and poverty in southern Missouri.  Might be the best movie of the year, but it casts this rural  region of as bleak, dangerous, and depressing.  

Ironic that arguably the most compelling film of the year was assisted by tax credits from a state which the film portrays so unfavorably.