A proposed city budget for 2020-2021 signals a further shift in perspective for the Kansas City mayor’s office, removing significant funding for the planned Keystone innovation district project at 18th Street and Troost Avenue.
KCMO would decrease the amount slated for the Keystone Development District by $300,000, if the submitted budget is approved, according to the document released Thursday afternoon by Mayor Quinton Lucas and the interim city manager.
The current year’s budget — approved in March 2019 — included an initial $300,000 for the Keystone effort, which was described as “a $1.5 million four-year plan to implement an entrepreneurial business accelerator through the creation of co-working spaces, partnering businesses with education, and strengthening existing business in Kansas City.”
Click here to read more about the proposed Keystone district, which has benefited from the backing of the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, KC Rising, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, as well as already tapping into such partners as BNIM architects, JE Dunn Construction, and Metropolitan Community College.
“The idea is if we can build a place where you have universities, corporations, entrepreneurs, risk capital, all in a tightly built neighborhood, you start to see those collisions that escalate and accelerate the number of enterprise or innovation driven companies,” Kevin McGinnis, CEO of Keystone Community Corporation, told Startland News previously. “Workforce development happens faster. You start to see commercialization of research out of the universities and see that start to stay local.”
McGinnis did not respond to a request to comment for this story, but told Startland News in late January that the Keystone project was still moving forward as planned.
The city’s proposed budget also removes $50,000 for the LaunchKC program and $75,000 for KCSourceLink, but retains $250,000 for entrepreneurship support through the Urban Business Growth Initiative at the UMKC Innovation Center/KCSourceLink.
Click here for more on the new budget’s potential impact on entrepreneurial support efforts.
The Kansas City City Council is expected to vote on the proposed budget March 26. A series of two-hour KCMO Resident Speakeasy Sessions are planned in the coming weeks to serve as public budget hearings ahead of the proposed budget’s expected adoption.
While Lucas’ office has not released a statement on the specifics of the reduction in funding for Keystone, the mayor made clear his priority of finding room in the city’s $1.73 billion budget for a new $4.8 million zero-fare transit program.
Additionally, the Keystone property in question — a tract owned by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority at 18th Street and Troost Avenue where Keystone developers plan to build an innovation center as a first phase of the project — has seen renewed outside interest.
Responding to revived discussions about relocating the Kansas City Royals baseball team closer to downtown, Robbie Makinen, chief executive of the KCATA, acknowledged the property at 18th and Troost was among the workable sites for a new baseball stadium.
“I’ve heard those rumors and I would be the first one to jump up and down and say absolutely,” Makinen told the Kansas City Star in September.
It’s been a long time coming: We are excited to announce that the FY 2021@KCMO Budget Hearings dates, times, and locations are finalized! Make sure to come out to one of the three hearings planned and make sure to make your voice heard! #KCMOBudget #Speakeasy pic.twitter.com/oJpJK9NQ4m
— KCMO Office of Management and Budget (@KCMOBudget) January 23, 2020