In 1999, the Northland Community Foundation, Northland United Way Services, and Harvest Ball undertook a comprehensive study of social service needs and challenges in Clay and Platte counties. This “Vision North 2000” assessment identified four priority areas for the Northland—Child Care, Dental Services, Transportation Services and Youth Programming. A task force was established to address these areas, and five years later, the partner organizations produced the Vision North 2005 report to analyze how successfully the community had addressed those four challenge areas.

Considerable progress was made in those four areas, but new challenge and focus areas were identified, namely Affordable Housing, Health Care, The Arts and Recreation. The report also noted some emerging themes, including the connection between the arts, recreation and human services and the quality of life; the importance of revitalizing older areas of the Northland; the recognition that the fortunes of the Northland were inextricably tied to the Metro region as a whole; and the need to support, advocate and build on existing strategies such as neighborhood revitalization and transportation plans.

In the summer of 2010, a new Vision North steering committee engaged the National Civic League to facilitate a new strategic planning process to assess current needs and challenges for the Northland and develop strategies and action agendas for making a measurable impact on the Northland’s critical areas of need. In the fall of 2010, the steering committee enlisted two co-chairs, identified and recruited key “stakeholders” and designed a process and a calendar by which to move forward. Between January and July of 2011, the stakeholders devoted hundreds of hours to the process, developing an ideal vision of the future, assessing the Northland’s civic infrastructure and identifying “key performance areas” (KPAs) to address in order to make that future a reality.

The KPAs identified were:  Community Wellness; Economic Development; Education; Transportation and Infrastructure; and Quality of Life. The stakeholders developed goals for each KPA along with strategies and action items for implementing those goals. The stakeholders also developed mini-visions for each of the KPAs.  In the future, Vision North will provide more opportunities for community members to get involved.  A modified Coordinating Committee will continue to meet, monitor progress and find partners to implement the strategies identified in this strategic planning process.

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