What Strategies is Kansas City Using to improve the places and to support people who drive our economy?

The Council Goal for Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development is: To develop a vital economy where there is opportunity for growth, particularly in historically underdeveloped areas; citizens have opportunities for creating wealth and prospering; and visitors consider Kansas City a desirable destination.

Below are the objectives from the current Citywide Business Plan that outline the specific strategies that the city is pursuing to improve services and economic outcomes for our neighborhoods and residents. These objectives provide insight into the departments that are involved and the actions that are being taken.

How Can We Measure Progress on improving the places and supporting the people who drive our economy?

The Citywide Business Plan goal of Planning, Zoning and Economic Development includes several objectives that strive to address the economic needs of individuals, like entrepreneurs, artists and residents who lack access to internet services.  Special attention is paid in this goal area to the importance of geography in creating economic opportunity for neighborhoods.  The unique needs and wants of particular areas of the city are taken into consideration through City Planning and Development Department's Area Plan implementaiton process.  This area begins to also address the topic of economic mobility, which is best described in the video below.  

Supporting Businesses: Entrepreneurship as an Economic Engine

Job creation is tied to new businesses emerging; thus, encouraging entrepreneurship and small business growth is a major focus for Kansas City. Mayor Sly James' declaration that Kansas City is America's most Entrepreneurial City was supported in March of 2015 when Kansas City was recognized in Milan, Italy as a top-five emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem by the Global Entrepreneurship Network. The City relies on strong partnerships with organizations like the Kauffman Foundation, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, KCSourceLink and many others to create and nurture an environment where entrepreneurship can thrive.
One measurement of the efforts supporting entrepreneurship is of the resources that are being directed into this area. As the below charts demonstrate, an increasing variety of financial, educational, and networking resources are available to for budding entrepreneurs.

Measuring business satisfaction

  • Since 2011, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) in partnership with the City of Kansas City has deployed a survey to local business leaders, in an effort to gather information about the business climate in Kansas City, Missouri.  

Business Community Awareness of Assistance Programs
Kansas City offers a variety of programs created with the intention of helping businesses of all sizes succeed. Making sure that businesses are aware of these resources is the first step. In 2013, the Annual Business Survey first asked businesses if they were aware of any of these assistance programs, and the data has been tracked by individual programs since. Below, you see the awareness of the City's business assistance program, KC Bizcare. (Updated annually)
Business Community Satisfaction with Assistance Programs
Business assistance programs are offered by several organizations. The chart below shows how businesses rated the various programs. These ratings are provided only by those businesses that have utilized that particular service in the last two years, which provides the programs with useful feedback from actual customers. This data comes from the Annual Business Survey. (Updated annually)
Business Satisfaction with City Services

The chart below shows current satisfaction levels with existing City Services. This data is collected from the annual Business Survey. In all cases, the majority of users are either satisfied or neutral.

Importance of City Services to Businesses

The annual business survey also asks businesses to rate the importance of various city services. Business Licensing and Tax Collection is, by far, the most important city service. This suggests that limited resources should be prioritized to improve this business service, before other services are improved.

KC BizCare

KC BizCare, the City's Business Customer Service Center, is a free business resource, advocacy and information center for new and existing businesses operating within Kansas City. BizCare provides guidance and assistance for businesses navigating the City's licensing, permitting, and approval processes. KC BizCare also provides zoning clearances for business licensing and free access to personal computers to check records and to submit online applications. For more information on BizCare and to access their Business Resource Guide, visit their website .
In addition to assisting new and existing businesses with navigating the City's processes, BizCare also provides referrals to a broad range of other organizations based on the business' specific needs. As is evident from the chart below, most clients receive multiple referrals. (updated biannually)

Creating Spaces:  Focusing Economic Development Geographically

In addition to promoting economic growth across the board for all Kansas Citians, the city of Kansas City also has a goal of encouraging economic development in neighborhoods in need of redevelopment. Each area of the city has a set of unique characteristics which means that the city provides individualized redevelopment plans and incentives that promote economic vitality within each distinct neighborhood.

Area Plans

The Planning and Development Department works with work with developers, property owners, neighborhood groups, community agencies and local businesses to develop and maintain “blueprints for development” in the form of area plans for the geographic areas of the city. These long-range plans provide the basis for the City’s ability to determine appropriate zoning for a property, which in turn defines how property in the city may be used.
Kansas City, Missouri is divided into 18 geographic area plan regions for which plans are prepared. The area plans are detailed and cover all of the relevant physical development components, including land use, zoning, water and sewer needs, street and traffic planning, fire and police stations, topography and slopes, soils, historic preservation, and urban design elements. Area plans recommend strategies to help realize a community’s long-term vision for the future and provide a comprehensive framework to guide public decisions on land use, housing, public improvements, community development and City services.
Below is a map of the current area plans. You can find individual area plans here(updated daily)

Physical space needs for the creative sector

As Kansas City's art sector continues to grow, there are opportunities to ensure that artists have the physical spaces necessary to conduct their businesses while also improving local neighborhoods.  In 2015, the city invited Artspace, a widely recognized non-profit organization, whose mission is to create, foster, and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organizations, to gather information in a pre-feasibility assessment about the needs and trends in Kansas City's neighborhoods in relation to the arts.  One of the major findings of the report was the need for more live/work space for artists.  Information from this report will form the baseline as the city implements programs that support the arts sector.  The full report contains details of neighborhoods assessed and full recommendations.   
Results from a follow-up Arts Market Study will be available on May 12, 2017.  

Supporting people:

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Digital Equity

The City formally adopted a Digital Equity Strategic Plan on March 9, 2017.  The plan highlights six major components:
1) Access to affordable broadband, devices and digital literacy training
2) Internet use for education
3) Internet use to promote digital citizenship
4) Internet use to promote employment
5) Internet use for business and job creation
6) Collaboration to promote digital equity priorities
As of FY2017 mid-year (through November 2016, 83% of citizens indicated that they have access to the internet at home.  However, this varies by age and income. More data will be available in the coming months.  

Economic Mobility

Economic Mobility is defined as a person's movement on the economic ladder relative to the previous generation.  In other words, as an adult, are you doing better (higher income, greater wealth, less debt) compared to your parents.  The city is in the early stages of developing an economic mobility plan that would include research and benchmarking with other cities and stories from residents about their experiences.  Key metrics will be determined based on this community engaged and research.  The economic mobility plan hopes to combine efforts where current city plans and initiatives impact this topic.  Where necessary, recommendations for potential policy changes will be made once the plan is complete.  The goal of the plan will be to determine ways that the city and partners can help individuals generate wealth, decrease cost burden and identify opportunities.  Below is a video developed by the Brookings Intitution that creatively demonstrates what economic mobility looks like in the real world.  

KCStat Schedule

All Council priorities, including those in the area of Economic Development, are discussed at KCStat Meetings, which are public meetings held at City Hall and moderated by the Mayor and City Manager. Anyone from the public may attend, or follow the discussion via Twitter (#kcstat). Videos of KCStat meetings and meeting documents are archived online and can be accessed at kcmo.gov/kcstat/. A list of past and future KCStat meetings for Economic Development is below.