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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chamber's Big 5 - Urban Neighborhoods - I have the solution

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce has released their Big 5 Goals for the metro - to which the Chamber will devote member energy and resources. Here is the one of most interest to me...

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.

I actually applaud the Chamber's recognition of the need to improve urban neighborhoods. It's finally recognition that they can't just leave for the suburbs and expect their business climate downtown to thrive. So now they are going to fix what they made wrong by leaving KC in the first place, taking their investment, jobs, property tax, and retail dollars with them.

I have an easy solution that does not require a 90-120 day planning period (which is what this Chamber task force is doing right now). My solution will guarantee results that existing residents cannot achieve. My solution will never be implemented because it requires too much sacrifice by the fixers.

My solution - have chamber members move into the urban core. I don't mean as gentrify-ing interlopers or as gated subdivision fortress dwellers. I mean, move into the urban core and work daily to solve this problem. Live the urban core every day and work to make it better. Share in the sacrifice and give generously from your own self to generate a sustainable community.  Stand side by side with the thousands of good citizens that are here trying to make their neighborhoods, blocks, and the urban core a quality place to live. 

My solution will be rejected, but I am putting it out there as a real one. I know it is real because I do it, every day.  

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