Editor’s note: Luke Norris, head of local government solutions for Kansas City-based PayIt, wrote this opinion piece in response to the Nov. 7 single terminal airport ballot questions facing Kansas City, Missouri voters. The opinions expressed in this commentary are the author’s alone.
It will be a day that a lot of us will remember for a long time.
In the coming years, we could continue to pull into Kansas City International Airport, walk into a concrete bunker with scarce bathrooms, few restaurants and limited flight options. Or, we could arrive at something that could look like this (click here for renderings of the proposed new single-terminal airport), offering a front door to Kansas City that’s as amazing as the city itself.
As startup leaders, we’re focussed on building companies, creating products and cultivating the startup community. But what is our role in building a city for the future?
A lot has been said about the rationale for and benefits of a better KCI by such groups as VentureLegal and even Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly. And, over the past several months, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and many of their largest employers have rallied behind supporting a new airport. In fact, the Greater KC Chamber voted unanimously to support the KCI single terminal ballot measure. So why don’t we do the same in the startup ecosystem?
You might be thinking that such corporate behemoths as Cerner, HNTB and Sprint — which have employees traveling to client sites across the country — have the most to gain and that they’ll turn out lots of voters. Sure, they’re big, and they have “influence,” but so do we — the small, mighty startups in Kansas City.
The Kansas City area’s startups created 16,325 jobs in 2016, according to KCSourceLink. On average, they create 16,376 new jobs every year. And from 2012 to 2016, the cumulative job-creating impact of Kansas City’s first-time employers resulted in 84,011 jobs, accounting for 65 percent of all new jobs and about 7.7 percent of the total employment in the Kansas City metro area.
We’ve seen what happens when people mobilize and vote, using their voice to help shape the infrastructure of our city. In the first year of operation, the Kansas City streetcar topped 2 million rides. And earlier this year, Kansas City passed an $800 million GO Bond initiative with nearly 70 percent support.
And unlike both of those initiatives, a new KCI airport won’t increase taxes — but it will undoubtedly spur an economic boon felt beyond just Kansas City, Missouri. Check out the A Better KCI fact sheet here for more info on the proposed project.
As entrepreneurs, we do whatever it takes. Let’s ensure that’s the case on Nov. 7. Let’s do whatever it takes to help ensure we have a better KCI — for our friends, peers, colleagues in Blue Springs, Leawood, Lee’s Summit and the millions of people who we welcome to our amazing city every year.
So, here’s my challenge to you, founders, executives and managers. Next Tuesday our firm, PayIt, will give our more than 25 staff members a late start to the workday, so they can go vote. Join us and send an email right now: Tell your team they can have a late start Tuesday morning, Nov. 7. Ask them to share their reason for voting on Tuesday using #LateStart4ABetterKCI.
If they don’t know where to vote, direct them here.
Use your voice. Share your entrepreneurial spirit and help create a city of the future that will benefit your firm, your employees and the region, creating increased opportunity for all of us.