Speaker urges cooperative approach to urban challenges

by Murrel Bland

When everyone realizes his and her economic potential, a city truly progresses.

That was the message that Janis Bowdler brought to more than 800 persons who attended the annual meeting of the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday, April 4, at the Reardon Convention Center.

Bowdler is president of J.P. Morgan Chase and Company Foundation. She lives in Washington, D.C. Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor David Alvey discussed community development and other matters with Bowdler and Gov. Laura Kelly.

The J.P. Morgan and Chase Foundation has made a commitment to invest $1.75 billion during the next five years to strengthen the workforce, revitalize neighborhoods, grow small businesses and improve the financial health of individuals.

Gov. Kelly used the opportunity to promote her legislative agenda. She favors expanded early childhood education, expanded Medicaid, improved infrastructure, a solution to the public school court case and reform of the prison system and the Department of Children and Families.

Bowdler is the co-author of the book “Building Equitable Cities,” published by the Urban Land Institute. The book argues that cities should combine nonprofit organizations, government entities and the private sector to create an environment in which all people have meaningful opportunities to move up the economic ladder. That will cause cities to expand their economies.

Bowdler said she realizes that such an approach may not be easy because of past bad experiences in neighborhoods. But it is still necessary, she said.

Gov. Kelly introduced her Secretary of Commerce, David Toland, who will be a key person in economic development in rural Kansas cities and counties. Toland, who is from Iola, Kansas, where he headed an economic development effort, was the target of conservative members of the Kansas Senate during his confirmation hearing. Nonetheless, last week he received a majority of votes needed for approval.

Mayor Alvey said that an improved tax base is needed to provide the services that residents deserve. He compared what one mill would raise in the Turner School District (about $160,000) with what one mill would raise in the Blue Valley District in Johnson County, about $2.4 million.

Mayor Alvey, Gov. Kelly and Bowdler all agreed that communities must invest in education to assure that there will be an adequate, well-trained workforce for the 21st century.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press.

KCK Chamber to hold fireside chat Thursday with Gov. Kelly and JPMorgan Chase Foundation president

Gov. Laura Kelly
Janis Bowdler
Mayor David Alvey

The Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce will feature a fireside chat with Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and Janis Bowdler, president of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Foundation on Thursday.

Part of the chamber’s annual meeting, the fireside chat will take place at a luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at the Reardon Convention Center, 5th and Minnesota, Kansas City, Kansas. Mayor David Alvey will moderate the discussion.

The event’s theme is “Building Equitable Cities.”

“We are excited at the opportunity to hear Ms. Bowdler’s global, corporate perspective as it relates to our emerging region,” said Daniel Silva, president and CEO of the KCK Chamber, in a news release. “Part of our mission at the Chamber is to propel economic growth and sustainability through strengthening our workforce, empowering small businesses and improving the lives of individuals throughout our region. We are also thrilled to hear Gov. Kelly’s state perspective as the highest ranking elected official in Kansas.”

It will be the first time Gov. Kelly has given a speech to the KCK Chamber.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. recently announced it would expand their branches into nine top U.S. markets, including the Kansas City region. While the firm has had commercial banking clients in the region for decades, as well as more than 454,000 consumer customers and 15,000 business banking customers, their branch presence will be new.

The KCK Chamber event has sold out, with more than 820 guests expected to attend.

Bowdler is the co-author of “Building Equitable Cities: How to Drive Economic Mobility and Regional Growth.” The book offers practical ideas on growing the local economy and increasing opportunity.

The idea of the “equitable city,” where urban areas empower the people to build up their cities, fits in well with what the KCK Chamber and local government are trying to do here, said Katelyn McInerney, the KCK Chamber’s director of marketing and events.

McDonald’s to raise funds for flood victims tonight

Tonight, McDonald’s will hold a fundraiser to help flood victims and relief efforts.

McDonald’s restaurants in the Kansas City metropolitan area and in St. Joseph, Missouri, are participating in the fundraiser from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 27.

Twenty percent of the sales generated between those hours will be donated to local American Red Cross chapters in Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa, and other organizations that help flood victims. The proceeds will go to help communities devastated by Missouri River flooding.

The goal of the fundraiser throughout the area is $100,000 for flood relief efforts.

“I’m just pleased to have this opportunity to help,” Cassandra Savage, a McDonald’s owner-operator, said. She owns two McDonald’s restaurants in Kansas City, Kansas, one in Roeland Park, Kansas, and six other McDonald’s restaurants.

None of the local restaurants was affected by flooding, but communities such as St. Joseph, Missouri, Omaha, Nebraska, and along the Missouri River in other locations have suffered devastating losses from the flood.

“We were fortunate enough not to have any devastation at all,” Savage said. “That’s why we feel we are in a position to help them.”