Greater KC Chamber Rolls Out “Big 5”

I just returned from the Liberty Memorial, where the Greater Kansas City Chamber unveiled the BIG 5 Ideas. Leading up to today’s announcement, the Chamber held several meetings, including a number of “No Bad Ideas” meetings where ideas were solicited from the community. In July, I participated in a voting meeting in which the ideas were whittled down to about 20 and presented to the Chamber board. Board members continued to vote and refine, culminating in this morning’s unveiling of the Big 5 initiatives and their champions (or chairs).

The following is from a just-issued Chamber press release:

“The Big 5 build on strengths we already have regionally,” said Greg Graves, Chamber Chair and Chairman & CEO of Burns & McDonnell.  “Taken together, they propel the community forward, enhance our quality of life, and create jobs.”

“We started with 182 big ideas,” said Jim Heeter, Chamber President and CEO, “and now we’re down to five.  It’s been an evolutionary process – and gratifying to see the passion for our community and interest in collaboration.”

“The Chamber gave birth to the Big 5.  The Champions will bring them to fruition,” said Frank Ellis, incoming Chamber Chair and Chairman & CEO of Swope Community Enterprises.  “They’ll bring other folk in to help devise and implement the tactical milestones to success, and the Champions will report back on a semi-annual or quarterly basis.  This is a community-wide effort – and it lights you up.”

The Big 5 are (in no particular order):

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.

Organizing and hosting a global symposium on animal health will establish the KC Animal Health Corridor as the premier location for that industry.   This idea leverages our existing animal health, nutrition, and bioscience assets.

Jim Heeter, President and CEO of The Chamber, and Bob Marcusse, President and CEO of Kansas City Area Development Council, will work closely with Forsee and his group to organize the international conference.  The Chamber, KCADC, and the KC Area Life Sciences Institute already manage different aspects of the Corridor.

2. The Urban Core Neighborhood Initiative — Co-Champions:  Terry Dunn, President & CEO, JE Dunn Construction Group, & Brent  Stewart, United Way of Greater Kansas City

You can’t have a hole in the regional doughnut.   And as former Chamber Chair John Bluford (Truman Medical Centers) said during the Big 5 discussions, “Poverty is the number one negative factor in determining the health and health mortality of the general population.”

Jackson County’s poverty rate is high when using the official formula – 15.4 percent of the population.  That number is higher still for what most experts consider a more accurate measurement of poverty (200 percent of the federal poverty level).  Use that measurement, and Jackson County’s poverty rate is 34.2 percent.

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.  Violence is one critical area of focus, along with education and economic development.

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

“With the list of assets we already have,” deSilva says, “we are already credible in this space.”  The  Kauffman Foundation and nationally recognized Bloch School are just two of those assets.  Add in the region’s history of great entrepreneurs and Kansas City could be considered a cradle of entrepreneurship.

“Entrepreneurs have the vision to grow,” deSilva adds, “and that’s where business growth is. This is about ‘growing your own,’ rather than trying to lure other companies here.

“The companies that grow up here, stay here,” he says.

4. The KC Regional Translational Research Institute — Champion:  Dr. Patrick James, Sr. Managing Partner, Quest Diagnostics; Chair, Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute

The overarching goal 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.

Thanks to the grant, researchers and clinicians from KU Medical Center, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute will collaborate with colleagues from across the bistate region to create a new multidisciplinary translational research network.

“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, Chancellor, University of Missouri-Kansas City

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.

The goal here is to raise the dollars necessary for the move ($50 – 80 million) and to set targets of 2000 students and a Top 10 ranking for the Conservatory within five years of opening the new campus.

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About Smart Companies Thinking Bigger®

Kelly Scanlon is the owner and publisher of Thinking Bigger Business Media. She recently finished a term on the national board of directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and was the national chair from 2010-2011. An advocate for small business owners, Kelly sits on numerous boards and committees to advocate on behalf of small business owners. She has won several awards for her advocacy. Among them are the 2011 United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award on behalf of Kansas City area small business owners, the U.S. Small Business Administration's Region VII Women's Business Champion of the Year in 2009, and the Women in Business Advocate of the Year from the State of Kansas in 2006. In 2002, she won the SBA's Region VII Small Business Journalist of the Year Award (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas). Whatever your business stage—aspiring, startup, established, mature—Thinking Bigger Business Media has the resources you need to grow to the next level. We are a resource organization dedicated to providing the strategic, "how-to" information small business owners need to become more productive and more profitable. We also provide information that helps owners connect with resources within the business community that can help them grow. We deliver that information through a variety of media products and other channels easily accessible to business owners.
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