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October 20, 2020

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




September 4, 2018

The third quarter CBIZ Executive Advantage Series featured the success stories of Neal Sharma, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at DEG and Tyler Nottberg, Chairman & CEO at U.S. Engineering. The two leaders spoke about their entrepreneurial journeys, and how they remain successful and competitive in a market that is constantly morphing to meet the demands of the consumer. If you missed their inspiring testimonials, here are four key points to motivate you for the rest of the week:

  1. Reduction of overall cost is extremely valuable to the consumer.

Tyler Nottberg admitted that being an entrepreneur in mechanical contracting is not a walk in the park. Like many industries, there are set ways of doing things that are extremely difficult to change or challenge. In his current role, Tyler has made it his mission to change the mindset of his associates, peers, and clients by finding ways to effectively reduce the total cost of a project, while maintaining the highest quality. He aims to accomplish this by providing education on the holistic value of investing in systems and products that may be more expensive initially but will save money in one year, five years, and beyond. This big picture approach can be applied to many industries and projects and helps prospective and current clients understand that the lowest bid is often synonymous with the lowest value. Thus making the strategic investment towards a larger bid, can provide a greater long-term value. 

  1. “The fish rots from the head down.”

While Neal admits this is an old saying and not his own, he used it to drive the importance of strong leadership in an organization. When people ask him how to create an engaging and positive company culture, he emphasizes the importance of an organizational commitment to create an environment where you bring your best self to work and encourage ongoing change. In order to make people feel valued and fulfilled at their job, personal investment is key; as he puts it, “The best way I can build a better company is to be a better man.”

  1. A company doesn’t exist without the community, and the community doesn’t survive without the company.

Tyler emphasized that there is always a partnership that exists between the community and its companies. One cannot exist without the other. A well-functioning society fosters this dynamic so that both are invested in the other for mutual growth and success. In order to keep moving forward, it is imperative that people see that relationship not as a burden, but as a life source to help foster the collective community.

  1. Our community sees Kansas City as a major league city.

Both Tyler and Neal spoke very highly of Kansas City and the strong community that has been cultivated here. When asked about the growth trajectory and what Kansas City needs in order to thrive, they said it began when Salvador Perez’s hit happened in the fifth game of the World Series. “We began to see ourselves as a major league city,” Neal said. Since then, growth has been exponential, but the ability to level off is coming. “We have not yet been asked by our leaders for an ounce of sacrifice for the sake of our communities.” They encouraged current community leaders and aspiring leaders to avoid the civic vacuum, wherein they participate in programs and then disappear for 20 years. Instead, they encourage these leaders to stay involved and encourage more participation and engagement and be personally connected to the communities they serve.




May 24, 2018

At the most recent CBIZ Executive Advantage Series, leaders from across the city gathered to learn from local experts who were charged with answering the question: What to Expect in Kansas City in Five Years.  

The panelists were purposefully selected to provide diverse opinions based on their respective areas of expertise and covered a broad spectrum of areas. The panel featured moderator David Warm, Executive Director of the Mid-America Regional Council, Dr. Kim Beatty, Chancellor of Metropolitan Community College; Dianne Cleaver, Executive Director of the Urban Neighborhood Initiative; and Troy Schulte, the City Manager of Kansas City, Missouri.

The panelists each shared commons goals for the future of Kansas City and challenged the audience to consider continuous innovation to keep KC on the map. With an aging infrastructure, a population that is geographically spread out and culturally diverse, and a broad range of economic levels from the inner city to the suburbs, there are certainly some challenges to consider. Below are the top five key points discussed during the panel.

1. COMPETITION FOR INNOVATION

All the panelists noted that incredible things are happening in the community. David Warm started the discussion by giving statistics about the future of Kansas City. Of note, Kansas City is growing and expanding in population, diversity, job opportunities, and in educated citizens. Within the next five years, Kansas City will surpass Cincinnati, Ohio as the 30th largest metropolitan area in the United States. With that, however, comes the natural growing pains of a city.

Troy Schulte reminded the audience that most innovative ideas do not come from city hall; they come from the vision of the community. He weighed the need for entrepreneurs and dedicated business leaders to continue to push the needle for generating ideas in Kansas City, which will ultimately enhance the City’s competitiveness on a national scale.

2. TRANSPORTATION

Every major city continues to struggle for how to connect their population with the most efficient and effective public transportation. This key discussion point stemmed from a question David Warm positioned to the group; namely, how do these community leaders address the difficulties that arise from the intersection of people and places? As Kansas City continues to add people into the community, there are natural challenges that surface. Troy Schulte recognized this has highlighted a need for better public transportation across the area, and how he hopes that the next five years will see the completion of a streetcar to the plaza, the opening of the new KCI, and more expansive bus routes. Dianne Cleaver agreed on the necessity of this, adding that many people she works with in the inner city neighborhoods struggle to find and maintain jobs because of the inefficiency of our current transportation system.

3. EDUCATION AND SKILLED WORKFORCE

Dr. Kim Beatty went into detail about the initiatives at Metropolitan Community College to better equip high schoolers and adults with skills that will provide a livable paycheck with or without a four year college degree. Like many cities across the United States, there is a growing lack of qualified trade workers within the metropolitan area, and she emphasized the need for internships and apprenticeships to be supported by the larger community businesses.

4. ECONOMIC EQUITY

 David Warm asked each panelist to end with action items for attendees of the seminar, so that people would leave with a sense of responsibility to their community. Dianne Cleaver encouraged the business community to continue their philanthropic efforts, supporting initiatives like her own that aim to eliminate barriers to equity in Kansas City. We must be committed to achieving equity and justice in a manner that honors the unique identity of the communities and citizens in those communities. 

5. MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER

Dr. Beatty’s final thoughts posed a task to the audience to think outside the box. Ask the courageous questions; sometimes, the difficult issues are neglected or put on a backburner because people are scared to confront topics that make others uncomfortable. However, it is in these difficult questions that we address pain points and can then work together to eliminate them moving forward.

Troy Schulte pressed for collaboration within Kansas City. Increased collaboration between the business community, political community, education community, and the residents of the city are vital to keep Kansas City moving forward.




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