Sly Gets It: Too Many Kansas City Residents are Out of Work
As a small business owner, Sly James understands how important it is for Kansas City to create jobs in this difficult economic environment.
Kansas City needs a healthy mix of jobs, from hard hats to hard sciences. That means we need to focus on using existing assets, supporting small and large business development, increasing capital projects, and generally creating a positive business climate.
Unfortunately, Kansas City has not traditionally maximized its potential for job creation and business development.
The good news is that there are solutions that provide immediate relief for Kansas City job seekers and businesses as well as long-term benefits for the overall business climate in Kansas City.
As a small business owner, Sly James understands how to create a business climate that works for all of Kansas City, and that’s what he’ll do as mayor.
Sly Gets it Done: Creating Jobs and Growing the Economy
Sly James’s “Get to Work” Program
Sly’s “Get to Work” program for Kansas City is a strength-based approach to job creation, which is to say that it uses Kansas City’s existing strengths to jump-start our economy.
Kansas City’s convenient, central location makes the metropolitan area a natural regional and national hub for intermodal transportation, warehousing, manufacturing, and distribution.
Located at the juncture of three interstate highways, four interstate linkages, and 10 federal highways, Kansas City is served by more than 300 motor freight carriers. Kansas City is the third largest truck terminal in the United States, the second-largest rail center in the United States and is served by four of the country’s eight Class I rail carriers, as well as three regional lines and one local switching carrier (Kansas City Terminal).
In addition to leveraging our geographic advantages, we must take advantage of the private investments made in new industries over the last decade. These industries – life sciences, health care, green jobs, and international trade, including light manufacturing – can help to grow a long-term workforce.
Kansas City must also fully support the Stowers Institute, UMKC, Midwest Research Institute, Cerner, along with several quality hospitals to be a major player in the health industry expansion. We have a real opportunity here as jobs in the health care industry have grown even during this recession.
These are good paying jobs from lab tech to lead scientist. With the Full Employment Council and the Metropolitan Community Colleges working in conjunction to provide training in allied health careers, all Kansas Citians can have an opportunity for a career that is in demand and is sustainable.
In order to implement his “Get to Work” Program Sly will:
- Aggressively pursue life science research and development business growth. This includes serving as a positive ambassador for our city and supporting the Chamber of Commerce, area start-up businesses, and health institutions as they expand, recruit, and train new scientists and workers. It also includes working aggressively with federal and state government as well as private entities to support capital expansion as needed. Our city has tremendous building blocks like the Stowers Institute, Midwest Research Institute, and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Animal Health Initiative, but we need additional wet-lab space, incentives for increased collaboration between institutions, and a science friendly environment that draws the most talented researchers to our area.
- Eliminate the unnecessary hurdles and reduce red tape for small businesses, start-ups, and development. This includes working with developers and neighborhoods to repurpose and retrofit older buildings for commercial use. This also includes streamlining and strengthening the Minority Business Enterprise/Women-owned Business Enterprise (MBE/WBE) programs to ensure more companies have the ability to start up, maintain, and grow a workforce. One of the shortfalls of the current program is its failure to continue to support MBEs and WBEs when they begin to achieve success. That’s a mistake and it’s time we reward those who do good work and help them continue to grow. In addition, by adopting a creative approach to tax incentives – such as tax increment financing and tax abatement – programs that are targeted, necessary, and vetted by the public – we will not only get the cranes back in the air, but we’ll invest in our community in a manner that makes sense for the entirety of Kansas City.
- Hold developers accountable to hire Kansas City workers if the company receives Kansas City tax incentives. It’s common sense. If a company gets a tax break in our community, then our community should get maximum benefit out of that investment. That means our city should monitor those developers and companies who get breaks to make sure that they are using Kansas City-based workers as often as possible.
- Encourage and support expanded international trade from our local businesses. It is long past time that the city encourages growth in this area. Kansas City’s strategic geographic location makes it prime for international trade and our manufacturing infrastructure lends itself to help grow this potential sector. Kansas City currently maintains 13 international Sister City relationships to help promote global cooperation, cultural understanding, and economic opportunities. These relationships need to be strengthened and leveraged.
- Work cooperatively with our representatives in Jefferson City and Washington, DC, and with those from St. Louis, Springfield, and even Topeka to push legislation that will create more incentives for companies that create jobs, and reward the ones that do. The Obama Administration has invested $80 billion in these types of programs and the Department of Labor has added an additional $500 million for worker training.
- Encourage green investments and infrastructure. Kansas City has shown that we want to be a model “green” city by not only adhering to greener infrastructure in its Sewer Overhaul Plan, but by exceeding EPA mandates. However, we can do so much more. We must aggressively pursue federal funding that helps make Kansas City a model of sustainability. Let’s start by making sure the Green Impact Zone becomes a reality.
The benefits of Sly’s “Get to Work” Program for Kansas City include:
- Increased employment rates,
- Increased total wages,
- An increase in the number of small business startups,
- Increased city retention of small, medium, and large businesses