This week concludes with a presidential visit to our local Ford plant. Within a two-month time span, this region has hosted the president of the United States twice, as well as two of his Cabinet secretaries. That shows that were onto something here. Our economy is on an upward trajectory, as evidenced by Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that our economy is adding jobs at a rate faster than the national average.
By SLY JAMES
Special to The Star
The presidents most recent trip to our area is symbolic in a couple of ways. First, it highlights the fact that the national automotive industry is growing again and is creating jobs more rapidly than in the previous 15 years. The Claycomo plant announced in May that it would add two thousand new jobs. Local workers are certainly feeling the ripple effects of that. Second, it shows that Kansas Citys economy is getting stronger.
The president has championed a number of federal initiatives aimed at delivering a better bargain for the middle class. These include important policies like overhauling the housing sector in a way that makes homeownership a responsible reality for many, simplifying the tax code so that small businesses thrive, and focusing on job training and education so that the American workforce is competitive in a global, high-tech economy. President Obama crafted these policies with an eye toward bolstering people out of poverty and supporting our middle class.
The middle class is the backbone of our economy always has been, and with hard work and bipartisan collaboration, always will be. Locally, we get the job done by working together, not against each other. We also do our work with an eye toward the future because we understand that cities are not built for the present, but for generations to come.
My work to bolster our local economy, and our middle class accordingly, focuses on 4 Es education, efficiency, enforcement, and employment. All of these elements are related so that progress in one moves them all forward. Thats the reality of our community nothing happens in a vacuum. Additionally, many of our local initiatives dovetail with positive developments on the federal level. For example, the President is committed to addressing youth violence in our cities as well as giving our young people the best start possible through early childhood education.
Crime is our Achilles heel. We must lower our crime rate to attract new investment. Through initiatives like KC NoVA, a focused-deterrence effort targeting a small group of active, chronic offenders who commit a disproportionate amount of crime, we will make strides in fighting crime.
I am working with local school districts to create positive educational outcomes for our students. Our future depends on it. That starts early, with the Turn the Page KC third-grade reading program. A child who lags behind in 3rd grade is less likely to succeed academically later in life and that means they cant find a well-paying job as adults.
At the end of the day, residents want and need well-paying employment opportunities. That means different things to different people but one thing is constant investing in our human capital is a smart economic development strategy.
I am committed to making local government an efficient, results-oriented machine using open data, strategic planning and benchmarking. Residents deserve nothing less and the many competing priorities facing us require it.
Working collaboratively, weve made tremendous strides since the financial crisis five years ago. If we remain focused on common goals, rather than tertiary issues that may divide us, we will keep the momentum going.
Sly James is mayor of Kansas City.