In the latest CBIZ Executive Advantage Series held on October 13th, 2020, we were joined virtually by Mayor Quinton Lucas of the City of Kansas City, MO. Well into a fascinating first year as the 55th Mayor of Kansas City, MO, Mayor Lucas held an open and honest conversation with us regarding topics such as COVID-19, schools, housing, infrastructure, and diversity. Despite 2020 being the year no one expected, Mayor Lucas remains optimistic and hopeful for the future of Kansas City.
Since this pandemic began, KC has issued a mask mandate and restaurants in the area have adapted their operations to keep everyone as safe as possible. As a community, he mentions that we still have the ability to support KC businesses through these challenging times by promoting them online. However, there are still some industries where large groups remain a concern such as arenas and concert venues. The biggest concern is how to keep everyone safe when gathering in large venues.
In addition to these venues, there has also been concern among the public with schools re-opening. Local districts decided to close in the spring with the intention to reopen once fall semester began, however, the pandemic has lasted longer and brought with it several unforeseen challenges. Mayor Lucas mentions that schools have been doing everything they can to help support students. One example of that is through premade lunches delivered using the school bus or at central sites. Districts continue to remain hopeful to return to in person learning in the future when there is sufficient testing available. An idea the Mayor has based on testing is to introduce the idea of broad-based testing that will select a random sample group to test for the virus and if any of the tests come back positive, they would then test all of the students. This idea helps to reduce the number of tests required initially and test the masses more efficiently. Navigating the education sector will be challenging as the future is still unknown.
Another sector in KC that has been experiencing change is the housing market. KC has an attractive up and coming market for buyers that other places don’t have and is a place where companies can grow and thrive. At the moment, there are more luxury apartments than moderately priced housing due to the dramatic income differences. The plan down the road is to create a future where there is accessibility at all income levels.
In the coming years, the street car and airport will provide increased real estate value and bring new business ventures to KC. The new airport is set to open in 2023 - just in time for the NFL draft! There have currently been 450 jobs created and that number is set to increase to 1,200 workers in the spring of 2021. When asked if the pandemic has changed any of the designs or plans, he replied that the goal of the design was already to create more space and that development is still on time and on budget. Also set for completion by 2023, the street car will be extended from River Market to Brush Creek. Given significant federal grants for this expansion project, the hope is that this will increase real estate value to those communities as well as bring in new jobs, tenants, and tourists. These aren’t the only changes that Mayor Lucas wants to see in the community.
Mayor Lucas wants to challenge KC to increase their retention and board or civic involvement opportunities for people of color. KC has a rich community of people of color and it is important that we as a community continue to be forward thinking and inclusive for those individuals. We need to listen to one another and have discussions rather than have one-off conversations. We all come from diverse backgrounds and we should recognize new ways to get things done such as positive reinforcement. Now KC, “Take the ball and run with it”.
KC has changed a lot in 2020, but COVID-19 is not going to stop us from moving in the right direction. The current state of schools, homes, and infrastructures are good indicators of the positive economy we currently have. There’s so much we still don’t know about the future, but we are still a community that is moving forward with what we are given.
Watch the entire recording here, and find out what other updates that Mayor Lucas discusses with our team. To register for the next CBIZ Executive Advantage Series event, please email kcevents@CBIZ.com