Kansas City has enjoyed a renewal in recent years, with billions of dollars transforming its downtown. But not all neighborhoods in the metropolitan area have benefited equally. The mayor and city leaders want to refocus economic development to be more inclusive and align these strategies with other key objectives, such as increasing the supply of affordable housing, promoting workforce development, and enhancing support for entrepreneurs, especially those from traditionally underserved communities. In partnership with civic and corporate stakeholders, FUSE Executive Fellow LaDonna Gooden developed a strategy to foster a more inclusive economic development ecosystem that better aligns the City’s fragmented development agencies.

Leveraging her experience in consumer research, LaDonna used data visualization to enable policy decisions based upon actual outcomes. To provide focused input for strategic initiatives across the City, she established the Affirmative Action Committee for the Planned Industrial Authority. Her work has helped the City identify and prioritize critical needs in the community, including affordable housing, land use and local hiring practices. LaDonna was instrumental in crafting various pieces of legislation, such as Kansas City’s first affordable housing ordinance. Her efforts have aligned a multitude of stakeholders and created a framework for the community to meaningfully engage in policy dialogue.