[Editor’s note: Startland News invited Kansas City mayoral candidates Jolie Justus and Quinton Lucas to compose open letters to address their potential constituents in KC’s entrepreneur community of startups, makers, creatives and risk-takers. Justus’ response is below. Lucas did not participate. The vote is set for Tuesday, June 18.]
I trust this community to see through rehearsed political smiles and rhetoric without substance, so I’ll be brief and shoot you straight. In many ways, the city has failed you. We have not done a good job supporting the job creators or helping them be more successful faster. Rather than give you a speech about what we should have done however, I want to bullet point some of the solutions:
- Entrepreneur Working Group. The entrepreneur community made it abundantly clear that you should be a primary focus of the city. Since the government doesn’t have all of the answers, I will create a working group similar to what was put together for Amazon, to figure out creative and holistic approaches to making the city one that propels startup businesses instead of holding them back. Companies should be successful because of Kansas City, not in spite of it.
- Access to Capital. We need to explore funding loan loss reserves so we can give loans to more businesses that need it to grow. At your mayoral forum I heard that the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation recently ranked us as one of the worst. I want to change that. We need to explore angel investment credits, public-private funds, and other innovative tools that are currently employed by many of our peer cities.
- Standing up for Progress. Too many times, the state of Missouri explores or passes legislation that causes entrepreneurs to pack up and leave Kansas City and hampers our ability to attract and retain talent. Laws that discriminate against the LGBTQ community and interfere with women’s reproductive health are two recent examples of state policies that tarnish our reputation as a progressive, inclusive community and prevent the attraction of top talent to our region. I promise to leverage my relationships in the Missouri legislature to prevent enactment of oppressive legislation and I will stand up and fight for our entire community to protect us from laws that do not reflect the values of our city.
- Better Funding Bizcare and Entrepreneur Support Programs. We need to do it. Plain and simple.
Leading up to Tuesday’s vote, I hope that you as the builders of our city will look into my past history of getting things done. I will take my track record and proven leadership and make sure that you not only have a seat at the table, but that the city puts its actions and money where its mouth is.
As Eze Redwood so kindly pointed out, the idea of us wanting to be the “Most Entrepreneurial City in America” does not fit with our past budget allocations. This is why I look forward to working with you to change the city’s financial commitment. I know that having people such as Donald Hawkins (yes I know who you all are, I’ve scouted you for possible guidance), Adam Arredondo (I owe you an email), Adrienne Haynes, Daniel Smith, Matthew Marcus, Lauren Conway, Eze Redwood, Toby Rush, Maria Meyers, Joni Cobb, Darcy Howe, and others, involved in that process will get us closer to where we need to be.