As seen in the Kansas City Business Journal. Reported by Miranda Davis. (Jan 5, 2018)
Rather than tell you what we will be paying attention to in the year ahead, we asked civic and business leaders to share what they anticipate being on their radar in 2018.
Ramin Cherafat, the new CEO of McCownGordon Construction LLC, has a few topics he will be watching with interest in the coming year.
Cherafat, who was COO before assuming his new role Jan. 1, is looking for big milestones in transportation and higher education, both of which he said will improve the area’s economic development.
One of his biggest hopes is that Kansas and Missouri will reverse the trend of cutting funding for state colleges and universities.
“At a minimum, we need to see that stop, and we need to see things turn in the other direction,” he said.
The path that both states are on is unsustainable, Cherafat said, and they need to find a way to support the universities and their research. If they don’t, they can’t educate the next generation of leaders or attract top talent.
“Investing in higher education is one of the best investments we can make,” he said.
With higher education, he expects the trend of using public-private partnerships to fund new facilities and infrastructure to continue. He pointed to the University of Kansas Central District in Lawrence, which McCownGordon is involved in, as an example of success in this area.
With transportation, Cherafat cited the single-terminal airport development at Kansas City International Airport and said that once everything is settled with the project, it will be great for economic growth.
But beyond the airport, he said, both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the metro area need to continue investing in transportation and infrastructure. He’d like to see the area capitalize on federal and state partnerships to bring Kansas City a “world-class transportation system.”
Cherafat said a lot of the milestones ahead of the metro area will require a strong partnership between local government and private business.
“I just want to see the public and private sector work more fluidly together in getting things done across the whole metro,” he said.