Economic Development | KCUR

Economic Development

Segment 1: Just because mental health services exist, doesn't mean that access to them is equitable.

As many as 56% of adults in the U.S. report that they are unable to receive the treatment they need for their mental illness, and there's no quick fix for the obstacles in their way. Organizations in Kansas City sare working to reach everyone who needs help, but they have a long way to go.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says that without focusing on basic city services in 2020, any goodwill that’s been built up means nothing.

Segment 1: President of Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City optimistic for 2020 but  keeping an eye out for what's ahead

Playing the long game with the economy is a crucial part of Esther George's job as a Federal Reserve Bank president, but she knows she can't lose sight of how people make financial decisions in real-time.  Plus, in an economy that seems to be doing well, George still has to do a balancing act between the positives and pitfalls that exist no matter how well the current situation looks. 

Segment 1: A winning NFL franchise puts money in the pockets of its host economy.

Kansas Citians have more to celebrate than just an exciting season for the Chiefs. One study shows when an NFL team is successful, fans in the home city are happier and more productive. That increased productivity creates an economic impact of up to $100 per capita but don't be calling the Chiefs to collect! 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Buzz about new housing and development in the metro has focused on downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The past two decades saw former warehouses and old buildings converted to lofts at lightning speed.

They're both from Kansas City's East Side, but the couple met at a conference in Cincinnati. Ever since they've been dreaming of making things happen for their community. Their plans for a new neighborhood on a vacant lot are so ambitious that just getting a shovel in the ground to start building would be an achievement of national significance.

  • Ebony Edwards, CEO, Movement KC
  • Daniel Edwards, architect, Movement KC

Segment 1: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas reviews the year that was, and discusses his 2020 to-do list.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has only been in office for five months, and has been busy for the duration. He defended his record on curbing tax incentives, standing up for tenant's rights, and pushing to make bus service free in Kansas City. Lucas also answered questions on the city's soaring crime rate.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City officials agreed to a scaled-back tax incentive package Thursday for financial services firm Waddell & Reed to build a new $140 million headquarters in downtown.

It’s the second time in recent months the Kansas City Council has been able to renegotiate fewer incentives, and a sign it may approach economic development deals with higher scrutiny than councils in the past. The council also took action Thursday to curb the ability of the Kansas City Port Authority to grant incentives. 

Segment 1: What "the teens" in Kansas City look like in the rearview mirror. 

From the Royals winning the World Series to new arts developments, the end of the decade is a natural time to take stock. What's new in Kansas City? Where has progress been made? Where hasn't it?

Kyle Palmer / KCUR 89.3

For Willie Vader, the Johnson County Courthouse can't be demolished soon enough. 

"That is the single biggest thing that could help downtown Olathe, what goes in there after that building comes down," Vader said. 

He owns Vader's Bar and Deli on Cherry Street, just east of the courthouse. The courthouse is nearly 70 years old and will be replaced by a bigger, more up-to-date one that's currently being built a block north. The new courthouse is expected to open in early 2021, and the plan is to tear the old one down shortly after. 

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Waddell & Reed will have a week to get city officials and Kansas City Public Schools on board with an incentive deal for its new headquarters.

The Kansas City Council on Thursday reduced the company's incentive package and delayed a vote on tax breaks for the project.

The financial services firm is seeking $40 million in incentives to move from its current headquarters in Overland Park to downtown Kansas City, Missouri. It  already has been awarded $62 million by the state of Missouri.

Google Maps

A global company that opened an office in Lee’s Summit a year and a half ago to much fanfare is shutting down its roadside assistance operation, affecting 82 positions.

ExlService.com notified Missouri economic development officials last week that it will cease the operation effective Jan. 31 and would lay off 31 Exl employees. Another 51 employees of two recruiting firms, Allied Global Services and Aerotek Inc., that contracted with Exl will also lose their jobs, but those workers will be reassigned.  

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

NEODESHA, Kansas — Three hundred middle and high schoolers filed into their school auditorium last week in the small, southeast Kansas town of Neodesha, uncertain why they’d been called there.

They left cheering and hugging. Some of the older students were teary-eyed.

College tuition and fees need no longer hold back graduates of this manufacturing community, about halfway between Wichita, Kansas, and Joplin, Missouri. A wealthy donor hoping to turn around the fortunes of his dwindling hometown — population 2,300 — will foot those costs for the next 25 years, and possibly decades beyond that.

BNIM and HOK

A scaled-back incentives request for the proposed $133 million Strata project has been approved by the Kansas City Council despite becoming a lightning rod for how the newly elected officials will approach economic incentives for major developments.

The 7-4 vote came after tense and heated debate Thursday on whether to grant incentives to the high-end office tower that has been languishing in City Hall for much of the last year. The project was first announced in late 2018.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas

Nov 11, 2019

With more than 100 days in office, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas reviews his progress and future challenges.

Policing gets a lot of attention, but Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says addressing violent crime requires a holistic approach. To help find solutions and opportunities for the region's youths, Lucas says he's working closely with many local school districts. On the subject of tax incentives for property developers, the mayor who campaigned on reducing them says he's not "torpedoing every project," but they can't all be on the backs of taxpayers.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

On a sunny Saturday afternoon — possibly the last warm day of the year — more than 150 people gathered near 21st and Prospect in Kansas City, Missouri, to watch some dirt get turned over.

But for a community battling years of blight, it couldn’t have been a happier occasion. They were celebrating the groundbreaking of the KD Academy, a 24-hour child care facility that hopes to open in 2020.

A journey along Quindaro Boulevard in northeast Kansas City, Kansas, takes us through history, demographic shifts, religion, and plans for economic development. Visit a black-owned bookstore in the 1960s, an integrated church and hear about one of the country's first black police chiefs. Plus, teens grapple with whether they have to leave the area to succeed.

This show is a culmination of months of reporting along Quindaro Boulevard as part of KCUR's Here to Listen initiative

Segment 1: KC Tenants will introduce a set of guidelines and protections for tenant-landlord disputes.

Since February, a Kansas City tenants group has been pushing for safe, fair, affordable housing for all. Their latest efforts have been drafting and garnering support for a tenant bill of rights, which they will present to City Council on Thursday.

Segment 1: Johnson County activists say there are signs to look for when detecting illicit sex trafficking businesses.

The business of sex trafficking often operates through a powerful underground network. This is why an Overland Park couple believies it's so hard to stop the practice. Mike and Pam Jensen pointed to one contributing factor, treating women who are trafficked as criminals rather than victims. They also outlined signs of illicit massage parlors which are well known as sources of human trafficking.

Segment 1: Long-time NPR reporter talks national economics and highlights his experience covering the Obama and Trump administrations.

Scott Horsley made the transition to NPR's chief economics correspondent earlier this year. He provided a rundown of the House's current impeachment inquiry and explained its impact on the U.S. economy. Horsley also shared experiences from his previous post reporting from the White House for the past decade.

Segment 1: Generational differences in responding to climate change are complex.

Last week's climate strikes in Kansas City were organized by a young Kansas Citian who left the film industry and moved halfway across the country to take on this fight. His story represents a differing sense of urgency around climate change, but more than that, too. 

BNIM and HOK

The future of a proposed downtown office tower is now in the hands of a new city council torn between fulfilling a 15-year-old contract and protecting taxpayer money. 

The 25-story tower would be the first multi-tenant, premium office building built downtown since 1991. It would be built on a speculative basis — meaning it has no tenants lined up — on the southwest corner of 13th and Main, above current retailers like Yard House. 

On Wednesday, 1st District councilwoman Heather Hall summed up what several councilmembers were feeling. 

Segment 1: Could opportunity zones change the landscape of investment in Kansas City?

As part of the bipartisan 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, opportunity zones encouraging private investment in distressed areas have been identified in every state. We get an explainer on how it works, along with on-the-ground insights into how the five opportunity zones in Kansas City, Missouri might stand to benefit. 

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City has long been a prime example of state tax incentives gone awry — the question now is if Kansas and Missouri can change the dynamic with a new agreement.

“Corporate welfare. It's a race to the bottom. It's wasteful spending. All of those really are true," says Angela Andreson Smart, vice president of the Hall Family Foundation in Kansas City.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Across Missouri, hundreds of people have applied to grow, manufacture and sell medical marijuana. On Thursday, the Kansas City Council decided how far the businesses can be from schools, churches and day cares.

Under the constitutional amendment Missouri voters approved in November, the buffer zone for cannabis cultivation farms, testing sites and dispensaries can be no greater than 1,000 feet.

“When you close down such a large part of the city with the distances, you have almost no landlords left to lease to. And the ones that want to, want to charge $30- to $40,000 nonrefundable,” said Bianca Sullivan, an attorney looking to get into the medical cannabis business.

Segment 1: Investors invited to consider five areas in Kansas City, Missouri, in need of development capital.

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is hosting a summit to introduce potential investors to federally designated "opportunity zones" that are ready for revitalizaton.  Participants explained the plan that focuses on establishing more jobs and more locally-owned businesses in economically disadvantaged communities. 

Portrait Session: Ebony And Daniel Edwards

Jun 21, 2019

They're both from Kansas City's East Side, but the couple met at a conference in Cincinnati, and they've been dreaming of making things happen for their community ever since. Their plans for a new neighborhood on a vacant lot are so ambitious that just getting a shovel in the ground to start building would be an achievement of national significance. Hear why.

  • Ebony Edwards, CEO, Movement KC
  • Daniel Edwards, architect, Movement KC

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Quinton Lucas will be the next Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri.

Lucas is a private attorney, lecturer at the University of Kansas School of Law and in his first term on the city council. He defeated fellow councilmember Jolie Justus, 59% to 41%.

NorthPoint Development

The highway interchange at I-70 and the Turner Diagonal in Kansas City, Kansas, will soon get a new look that city officials say is decades overdue.

The full commission of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, unanimously approved a development agreement for a $155 million redevelopment project for the area last week, which will involve a redesign of the heavily trafficked intersection.

Seg. 1: Grocery Stores | Seg. 2: Ryan Wilks

Jun 13, 2019

Segment 1: How are grocery stores changing?

Leon's Thriftway recently closed down in Kansas City, marking the end of an era for a black-owned business that had served its community for 50 years. The closing of Leon's reflects a sea of changes for a grocery industry that now has to keep up with the Amazons and WalMarts of the world. So how are grocery stores trying to keep up with the times? And how has the consumer relationship to grocery stores changed? In this segment, we tackle these questions and discuss the future of grocery stores.

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