Investment is a two-way street that can have a positive impact on both investors and community residents, according to Dianne Cleaver, president and CEO of Kansas City’s Urban Neighborhood Initiative.
A new event — the We Grow KC Opportunity Zones Investor Summit taking place Wednesday and Thursday — aims to bridge the divide between investors and underserved urban neighborhoods with the backing of the Urban Neighborhoods Initiative, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders.
“We are trying to attract investors that are not only looking to get a return on their investment but also make a social impact and uplift the community,” Cleaver said.
The summit is expected to draw local, regional and national investors to connect with entrepreneurs, policymakers and community builders and showcase the city’s Opportunity Zones, or low-income areas where development is incentivized under changes introduced by the 2017 tax overhaul.
Kansas City’s zones are divided into five broad categories: Central City, Paseo Gateway/Northwest, Blue River Valley, Swope Park and Martin City. All are areas where economic development has already kick-started but needs to be carried through with the support of investment, Cleaver said.
Summit organizers plan to offer bus tours of the Opportunity Zones to allow investors to physically experience the community.
Cleaver said the We Grow KC event embodies the spirit of upward economic mobility of residential communities in Opportunity Zones, which resonates with her organization’s mission to reduce intergenerational poverty and build healthy urban neighborhoods.
“We hope to get people interested in seeing the positive possibilities of investing in these areas and possibly give information that they hadn’t looked at before,” Cleaver said.
We Grow KC’s goal is to help investors from across the country get acquainted with the city and realize the community’s needs, said Joe Reardon, president of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
“We want to make sure that the investment that is done is investment that empowers the existing neighborhood and the people that live there,” Reardon said.
This story was produced through a collaboration between Missouri Business Alert and Startland News.