The Troost Corridor has been chosen as the first area for an unprecedented neighborhood revitalization effort.
That announcement was made today by leaders of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Big 5 Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI) in a news conference at the Nutter Ivanhoe Neighborhood Center located in the heart of the target area. The Chamber is partnering with United Way of Greater Kansas City in this unique and collaborative effort.
UNI co-champion Terry Dunn, JE Dunn Construction, also announced the formation of a nonprofit organization established to oversee and operate the initiative. Organized as the Urban Neighborhood Initiative, Inc., the mission of the new charitable entity is to build strong, collaborative partnerships among neighborhood residents, the regional business sector, civic and community groups, governmental agencies, and the philanthropic community to work together to improve community health and safety, education, and prosperity.
The new nonprofit will be overseen by a governing board that includes representatives from: The Chamber, United Way of Greater Kansas City, Truman Medical Centers, Kansas City Power & Light, Rockhurst University, Kansas City Southern Industries, Metropolitan Community College, Swope Community Enterprises, the Kansas City Police Department, the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, the Civic Council, Lockton Companies, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Parris Communications, the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and Calvary Temple Baptist Church.
“This is an unprecedented collaboration of leaders from every part of the community,” Dunn said, “with participation from the business, civic, philanthropic, and community organizations.”
A key element to that success, Dunn and others noted, is the collaborative partnerships already being formed with the neighborhoods and organizations within the Troost Corridor.
“Today’s announcement is just the beginning,” said Dianne Cleaver, vice chair of United Way of Greater Kansas City’s board of trustees. “Now, the hard work of planning and implementation begins. We believe that the unique partnership we’re creating – bringing together all sectors of our community in partnership with the neighborhoods – will help this initiative create long-lasting and positive change.”
Selection of the Troost Corridor
United Way of Greater Kansas City, under the leadership of UNI co-champion Brent Stewart, has been a key partner, taking on much of the responsibility of managing the effort. A project manager, Dr. Sylvia Robinson, was hired one month after The Chamber’s Big 5 initiatives were announced.
In December, United Way convened stakeholder sessions to gather input. More than 200 people with an interest in the east side attended those sessions. United Way then asked for expressions of interest from organizations or neighborhoods on the east side interested in partnering with the UNI. A total of 30 were received.
At the same time, United Way staff gathered qualitative data looking at where the greatest needs and greatest opportunities are on the east side.
After careful consideration, the UNI leadership group has decided to focus its initial efforts in the Troost Corridor, the area between Troost and Highway 71, from 23rd Street to 51st Street. This approach will include parts of several neighborhoods with strong partnership capabilities. In addition, the multi-neighborhood approach expands leadership and capacity-building potential.
By focusing in this area, UNI leaders hope to also align with other Chamber Big 5 projects that are focusing on entrepreneurship and commercial investment.
This corridor is intended to be the first of many areas that will be impacted by the Urban Neighborhood Initiative. As improvements are made in the Troost Corridor, successful strategies may be replicated in other areas of Greater Kansas City.
To begin, however, the volunteers wanted to focus where there is not only great need, but also positive activities already underway that can be used as a foundation. There are already some very committed individuals and organizations working in the Troost Corridor and the UNI hopes to partner with them to build upon their successes.
UNI’s Next Steps
United Way will convene a stakeholder meeting on March 6, to get input from corridor residents to discuss what’s currently happening in their neighborhood and the changes they’d like to see.
Next, the UNI leadership will work with its community partners to develop an action plan for moving forward. As strategies are developed and successfully implemented, the UNI will move from Phase 1 into Phase 2 later this year.
“I’ve spent my professional life working on neighborhood redevelopment east of Troost,” said Chamber Chair Frank Ellis, president and CEO of Swope Community Enterprises. “I am tremendously excited by the potential of this initiative, and gratified by the progress our co-champions, Terry Dunn and Brent Stewart, have achieved in just a few short months.”
“I absolutely agree,” added Chamber president and CEO Jim Heeter. “Today’s announcement is the culmination of a lot of thought, discussion, planning, and hard work.”
“In fact,” Heeter added, “I’m pleased to say that all of our Big 5 initiatives are well underway. We’re maintaining our pledge to keep this process open, inclusive and transparent. We released the first quarterly update on the Big 5 last month, and today are unveiling a website especially for the Big 5.”
Visit the new Big 5 website, which includes background information, descriptions of each of the Big 5, progress updates, news releases, and video.