Your Chamber at Work - September 11, 2023




Good news on the Chamber’s Access to Capital work: CommunityAmerica Credit Union, Commerce Bank, and Holy Rosary Credit Union have been accepted into the loan loss reserve program of the Kansas City Credit Enhancement Fund. The fund was launched in collaboration with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, LOCUS Impact Investing, and the KC Chamber.

The Fund and its loan loss reserve program seeks to increase access to capital for entrepreneurs in the KC region, providing support for banks, CDFIs, and other lenders to invest in businesses owned and operated by entrepreneurs in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, especially to entrepreneurs who are Black, Indigenous, and People of color.

"CommunityAmerica is proud to support the needs of minority- and women-owned businesses through this program,” says Lisa Ginter, CommunityAmerica CEO and Incoming Chair of the Chamber. “We all recognize that small businesses are central to our economy, and by getting more diverse entrepreneurs on a path to thrive, we will make Kansas City stronger and more vibrant for generations to come.”

“Small businesses play an important role in bringing innovative ideas to our community while creating unique employment opportunities,” says Kevin Barth, Chairman & CEO of Commerce Bank-Kansas City and a member of the Chamber’s Executive Committee. ” Commerce Bank is proud to be an active partner in the Kansas City Credit Enhancement Fund, which provides small businesses with more options for accessing capital. Through our collaboration with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, we hope to help many small businesses grow and prosper."

The Chamber’s Director of Small Business Vicky Kulikov spearheads the Chamber’s Access to Capital efforts and says, “We are absolutely thrilled that these three entities have stepped forward as participants of the first inaugural round of this new and innovative approach to capital access for minority-owned small businesses.”

All three have been active partners in the KC Chamber’s Access to Capital Task Force and Lender’s Forum. The application for the second round is now up and running. You’ll find it here.

We’re excited to see the continued success of the program, making access to capital more equitable to our black- and brown-owned small business community in the KC region.


The KC Chamber has been excited for the South Loop Link project ever since we led a delegation to Dallas, Texas to study Klyde Warren Park on our 2016 Leadership Exchange. On Tuesday, September 19, the South Loop Link project team is set to unveil the latest park design concept and share related technical information at a public meeting that you can attend. We’ll meet at The Gallery Event Space, 61 E 14th St., from 5-7 p.m. Transportation options include RideKC Bus, KC Streetcar, bike, walk or ride. Parking validation is available for the Cosentino’s Parking Garage and the KC Live! Parking Garage. Learn more here.


The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present the ATHENA Leadership Awards in Kansas City. The award is named after the Greek goddess Athena, symbol of intelligence, wisdom, arts, and sciences, and recognizes not only exemplary leadership and service, but also honors an individual who has actively assisted in opening doors for others. Award recipients are selected by the KC Chamber’s Executive Women’s Leadership Council and a selection committee comprised of program sponsors. 

Our 2023 honorees are Marian McClellan, program consultant for Kansas City STEM Alliance, who will receive the ATHENA Leadership Award; and Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHER KC, who will receive the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award. 

The ATHENA Awards Reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on September 20 at the Loews Hotel Neptune Ballroom, 1515 Wyandotte. The event is presented by UMB and KPMG. Leadership sponsors are McAnany, Van Cleave and Phillips and McCownGordon Construction. Cost to attend is $40 for Chamber members and $55 for non-members. Register here.


Robert Lighthizer served as the United States Trade Representative (USTR) from 2017 to 2021 and among other positions, was Chief of Staff of the Senate Committee on Finance under Chairman Bob Dole from 1978 to 1983. He is one of America’s most respected experts on international trade, having negotiated dozens of international agreements and practiced trade law for more than forty years. Lighthizer is also the author of “No Trade is Free: Changing Course, Taking on China, and Helping America’s Workers.” The Dole Institute, World Trade Center Kansas City, and International Relations Council will host a conversation with Lighthizer on September 21, from 7 to 8:15 p.m., at the Dole Institute, 2350 Petefish Drive, Lawrence, Kansas. A hybrid option is available. Learn more.


The KC Chamber is headed to the suburbs to make some new connections with Yaeger Architecture. Join us from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at 8655 Penrose Lane, Suite 300, Lenexa, Kansas 66219 on September 22. Learn about their most exciting projects, their culture of quality, and their expertise in planning, architecture, and interiors. Neighborhood Networking is free for KC Chamber members and $15 for non-members. Please register. The KC Chamber’s 2023 Networking sponsors are Delta Dental and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. Neighborhood Networking sponsors are Rock CFOSouthwest Airlines & Unbound.