Thanks to everyone who joined the MARC Board of Directors and Budget and Personnel Committee meetings on March 22. We’re sharing selected highlights from the meetings for your awareness and use in regional conversations.
The MARC Board heard a variety of updates, including reports on:
- COVID-19: Cases and hospitalizations continue to decline in the Kansas City region; however, experts are closely monitoring the surge in Europe and the new BA.2 subvariant of omicron. The variant has been detected in Kansas City wastewater.
- Tourism and events: Kathy Nelson, CEO of Visit KC and the Kansas City Sports Commission, reported on the convention and event outlook for the region. Next year will be the busiest year ever for sports in the Kansas City region with the NFL draft (350,000 anticipated visitors), the Elite 8 and men’s wrestling championships. Sights are also set on serving as a host city for the Rugby World Cup in 2031. The FIFA World Cup announcement is expected in mid-May or early June. If awarded matches, the region could expect an economic impact of $680 million.
- Buck O’Neil Bridge: Construction is underway and several long-term road closures have been implemented to accommodate the bridge project. Ryan Kneib, project coordinator for the Missouri Department of Transportation, reported that more than 6,500 cubic yards of concrete and 1.5 million pounds of steel have been used since the project began last summer. Upcoming work will focus on constructing river columns, realigning I-35 near Case Park and adding more columns on land. Construction will be completed by December 2024.
- Economic Equity Value Atlas: The EEVA is a new tool to aid in community decision-making. MARC is expanding the EEVA in the region to support the work of KC Rising, which aims to grow the economy for everyone. View the beta EEVA tool. MARC Chief Economist Frank Lenk demonstrated how the EEVA can provide data and context related to indicators like job/labor access, demographics, health and affordability.
- Preparing for 988: In July, phone service providers will begin directing 988 calls to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. MARC responded to a community need to prepare for this change by supporting six community mental health centers in Missouri through strategic planning in coordination with Kansas partners. MARC helped identify goals and philanthropic support for the effort. Final recommendations are expected in July with implementation to take place over time.
- Major regional planning initiatives: Several major planning initiatives are underway across the region. MARC staff provided a summary to increase visibility and awareness.
- Major local/county-wide planning initiatives: Kansas City, Missouri; Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas; and Leavenworth County.
- Missouri Department of Transportation studies: A study is underway to improve safety for I-70 users. MoDOT is also advancing a I-35 and I-29 corridor study to better serve the northern part of the metro area.
- State of Kansas: As part of the IKE Legacy Transportation Program, upcoming studies will focus on I-35 and K-10. The Midwest Road Usage Charge Study is also underway to consider a system that drivers pay to use the road based on miles driven to help fund transportation investments.
- Ride KC Streetcar: A north rail study will revisit technical and financial feasibility and determine next steps. Another study will evaluate high-capacity, multi-modal options for the east-west corridor connecting the Truman Sports Complex to the University of Kansas Medical Center.
The MARC Budget and Personnel Committee considers all matters dealing with budget, personnel and bylaw amendments. At its meeting on March 22, the committee heard reports on:
- MARC office expansion: Following the completion of a space study, MARC is increasing its footprint in the Rivergate Office Center to help address identified needs. Changes include relocating some programs to the 4th floor space and adjustments to the 3rd floor to create additional workspace, ensure more secure and efficient work areas for 911 operations, create more secure storage for IT needs, and meet other needs. Expected costs are $1,115,000 to be supported by a tenant refurbishment allowance, indirect funds, 911 funding, grants and long-term contingency funding.
- MARC audit: Committee members voted to support an efficient audit process by expanding and extending an agreement with Rubin Brown for audit services, including preparation of the MARC audit report, for the next three years.
- Older adults: The committee strengthened the region’s COVID-19 response for older adults by approving an influx of $144,000 in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 vaccine access funding to be used to expand and strengthen coordination and communication between MARC, partners and clients. The committee also approved $3,915,000 in federal funding from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for nutrition and other programming.
- Funding opportunities: Board members supported potential funding streams for regional priorities by approving applications for:
- $850,000 in funding from the states of Kansas and Missouri for Community Health Worker projects that would, if awarded, continue to expand and educate the community health workforce.
- $450,000 in funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to support a three-year community air monitoring program that, if awarded, would enhance ambient air quality monitoring in and around underserved communities.
- Up to $7 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation for planning and transportation project development for the Bi-State Sustainable Reinvestment Corridor, which aims to connect key activity centers and promising neighborhoods in three cities in two states along State Avenue, Independence Avenue and Truman Road.