How the Downtown Council of Kansas City, MO is Proving Impact and Boosting Momentum Using Data

With an urban core that is "riding a 15-year wave of growth and prosperity attracting residents, employers, and talent while unlocking opportunities and engaging private investment in Downtown", the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Missouri wanted a way to share—and celebrate—its wins. The Council also needed to demonstrate that the downtown was having a positive impact on the broader community and create even more excitement for its plans moving forward. 

To help organize this information in a way that was meaningful and impactful for residents, developers, and investors, the Downtown Council (DTC) worked with mySidewalk to create a user-friendly, data-driven resource—the State of Downtown dashboard. Below we've highlighted some of the Council's goals, challenges, and major discoveries. 

What was the goal of the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Missouri? 
With a growing population of millennials and 7,000 newly added housing units, the DTC wanted to measure and communicate the incredible progress the greater downtown has seen over the past 10 years. The Council wanted to celebrate the progress its made with residents and highlight the quality of life and vibrancy of the downtown area for visitors. Also, on a national level, it wanted to use data to increase investment in real estate, bring more jobs to the area, and advocate for quality policy standards. 

What challenges were they facing?
The Council battles a lot of narratives about downtown like its progressing too slowly, not diverse, unsafe, and a risky investment. These narratives are damaging to the growth of the downtown and do not represent the change happening in the community. The Council wanted to tell an accurate and positive narrative driven by data to boost momentum that could create more informed conversations. 

How did the Council use data to improve?
mySidewalk provided accurate and relevant data—combined with local citizen satisfaction survey and development data—to provide fact based, statistical information about Downtown Kansas City, Missouri. It helped the Council visualize the information in an accessible way that is easy for residents and investors to understand. The once static State of Downtown report is now an interactive and engaging dashboard that tells a story of progress in the area. The dashboard compares Downtown Kansas City with the downtowns of peer cities including Charlotte, Cincinnati, Louisville, Salt Lake City, and San Antonio. Now, the Council and stakeholders can work from one centralized resource to tell a more accurate story and share data about a downtown culture that is thriving. It also proves the impact it is having on the larger community.

The mySidewalk platform provides the capability to compare most of the major cities across the United States, so we can augment or modify our reports upon request. In addition to the comparisons of our national peers, we also review Downtown Kansas City in a regional context of the Kansas City MSA. Most importantly, it allows us to highlight the significant progress downtown Kansas City has achieved in our economy, housing, development, and quality of life sectors.
— Bill Dietrich, President and CEO for the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Missouri

What does this solution look like? 
The State of the Downtown dashboard measures progress and tells the story of a strong, thriving Kansas City Downtown. It shares how millennials—currently accounting for 40% of the population downtown—continue to seek a quality living experience in the area, how the downtown community is one of the most diverse in the region (53% of the population is ethnically diverse), and how the downtown generates over $3.5 billion annually, making it the center for economic activity in Kansas City.

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The city’s image continues to improve and the downtown, using data from the dashboard, can measure that satisfaction as it improves over time. 

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Our work with continuously updated data provided through mySidewalk is designed to elevate the economic engine of Downtown, as well as to escalate the Downtown Council’s efforts to create a vibrant, diverse, and economically sustainable community.
— Nate Orr, Chair of the Downtown Council and Partner at Spencer Fane

What did the dashboard help the Council accomplish? 
The State of the Downtown dashboard ultimately provided the Downtown Council of Kansas City, MO with key areas of focus to shape conversations they were having with the public and to track key initiatives over time.   

The State of Downtown dashboard was launched by the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Missouri on Friday, January 26 at the Council's annual luncheon. To learn more about the progress they've made with their dashboard, read this article. Or, click the button below to see and interact directly with the dashboard. 

What do you think of the work the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Missouri is doing using this dashboard? Let us know in the comments—we'd love to hear your feedback!