Game Changers

Over the last month or two there have been several decisions made that will impact St. Joseph for many years to come. While things happen every day that impact us individually, and our community collectively, it behooves us to take stock of those actions that truly can be characterized as “game changers.”

After much debate and consideration, the City Council adopted an ordinance that will create a rental housing inspection program. While there is not enough room in this newsletter to get into the details, it is fair to say the adopted ordinance represented a compromise that, over time, will stimulate the repair and renovation of many sub-standard houses in our older neighborhoods. Taking this step, along with LLC registration and a local land bank, sets the stage for transformation of our older housing stock, creating new investment, new residents, and improved property values in these important historic neighborhoods.

Over the past four years, the Chamber has worked with local employers and educators to address the education gap in St. Joseph that has led to a shortage of skilled workers. Recently, the Board of Trustees of Metropolitan Community College (MCC) of Kansas City gave its approval to bring community college programs to St. Joseph. MCC will partner with the school district, MWSU, and the business community to bring two-year degrees, certificate programs, and technical training to St. Joseph. Programs are to begin the fall of this year. Addressing our education gap will not only ensure a skilled workforce for local employers, but will also provide career opportunities that have not been available for many of our students.

Last, but certainly not least, was voter approval of the school tax levy pro-posal. The past problems have been well debated and discussed, but the reality is, you can not have a successful community without a successful public school system. I believe those who voted for the tax levy intuitively understood this. With strong leadership at the School District and a reasonable tax levy proposal, voters by over 60 percent said it was time to move on and begin focusing on making our school district successful.

All three of these decisions are game changers for our community and I don’t think I am overstating it when I say that these decisions will have a positive impact for generations to come. We should feel good about that and take a sense of pride from it, but realize that it took strong local leadership and a lot of hard work by many to make these game changers happen. This should give us both hope and excitement for the future of St. Joseph.

R. Patt Lilly — President & CEO, St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce