GREETINGS AND WELCOME TO WARMER WEATHER AND MORE DAYLIGHT!
After what felt like a long winter full of too many unexpected bouts of freezing rain, icy patches and grey skies, I’m sure you’ll join me in issuing spring a hearty welcome back to our great City.
So much has happened since last spring: We broke ground on the 800+ room Loews convention center hotel, successfully expanded our Hire KC Youth program throughout the City, and an overwhelming percentage of voters agreed that it was time for a brand new, state-of-the-art single terminal airport as well as an $800 million General Obligation Bond package. And those are just a few of the highlights.
By the time many of you take a moment to read this, it is my hope that we are planning for a new Buck O’Neil bridge after a positive vote on the Capital Improvement Sales Tax renewal. Replacing this bridge that carries 44,000 cars a day is a top priority.
Replacing the bridge and minimizing closure time will relieve traffic congestion, provide safer options to cyclists and pedestrians and is a much better value for our investment. Without a positive vote we cannot move forward on a bridge that better meets our current and future needs.
Maintaining and improving our infrastructure is not optional. These projects must be completed for the safety of our citizens and the future of our City. From the moment we announced the construction of our new convention hotel and the new KCI terminal, phones started to ring -- companies and organizations from around the country are increasingly interested in bringing their businesses and conventions here.
Why? Because we’re committed to doing what needs to be done to become a world-class city where people want to live and work. This is also the time to make summer plans for students. Countless studies have shown kids often fall behind academically during summer vacation -- commonly called the “summer slide.” It’s critical we keep our kids reading over this long break, and you can find many great ideas and options with Turn the Page KC’s Summer Learning Collaborative.
Hire KC Youth is a fantastic opportunity for high school and college-age students to explore their interests, build their resumes, and learn how to behave in a professional environment. What began as a program placing students in internships at city hall has grown into a much larger effort with students now interning at corporate and nonprofit partners across the City. I urge you and your employers to consider joining the program--it’s a great way to invest in the future of our City by helping to shape and mentor tomorrow’s top tier employees.
Finally, since summer is almost upon us, I urge you all to take some time off to be tourists in your own town. Have you taken a ride on the streetcar yet? Gone to a Royals game? Visited Power & Light, Crossroads, Rivermarket, 18th & Vine or the West Bottoms lately? If your answer to any of these is “no,” I encourage you to get out there and explore. So much is happening in our City -- many new businesses including countless restaurants, cafes and shops have opened -- you’ll be delighted by what you find.