As Black History Month comes to a close, we’d like to celebrate a few important leaders, projects and initiatives that are fueling growth and connection across Kansas City, Missouri. While these are just a few highlights, there are many more to share, and much more work to be done.
Chris Goode is the hardworking, visionary behind Ruby Jean’s Juicery. It all started after Chris’ grandmother, Ruby Jean passed away after a battle with diabetes, kidney disease, and high blood pressure which was largely attributed to her diet. The profound impact of his grandmother’s passing, combined with his passion for healthy living sparked the idea for Ruby Jean’s.
With three locations: 3000 Troost, 1111 Main Street and a Ruby Jean’s To-Go inside the North Kansas City YMCA, Chris has been passionate about expanding his businesses to areas that are generally lacking in healthy options.
His mission to educate about nutrition and encourage mindful living with easier access to healthy food, is making transformative changes across our community. Visit a Ruby Jeans near you.
As a leader in the civic and women’s community in Kansas City, Bridgette Williams is an inspiration to all those around her. Currently, she serves as the Chief Executive Officer and President of the Heavy Constructors Association of Greater Kansas City, a highway-heavy utility chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). “People call my organization if they need help with understanding the process for improving public /private infrastructure projects or when they need a qualified Heavy Contractor,” says Williams. She is also the Chair of the EDCKC board, sits on the Board of Directors of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and Lead Bank. She also serves on the Economic Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
Bridgette has been in the field of transportation, construction and economic development policy for more than 25 years. She began her career as a part time receptionist at the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, where she worked in various positions within the organization before eventually being elected President. She was the first African American and the first female elected to that position in the country.
Godfrey Riddle has a passion for building communities where people can reach their fullest potential. He’s currently the Vice President of External Affairs for Rightfully Sewn, an organization that provides seamstress training for women so they can thrive in a specialized workforce that will reestablish Kansas City as an epicenter of garment manufacturing, while at the same time, propel Kansas City fashion designers to market so they can supply the burgeoning demand for high-quality, American-produced garments.
Godfrey received his Master of Public Administration (MPA) and prior to his extensive efforts with Rightfully Sewn, he worked to build community with Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey and ArtsKC. See more about Rightfully Sewn.
Madeline Romious is no stranger to advocating for others. Serving as the Regional Vice President of External Affairs at AT&T for more than 14 years, she has lobbied local and state elected officials and represented AT&T in the Kansas City, Missouri in the civic and philanthropic community.
With a diverse philanthropic background and years of experience, Ms. Romious has served on several local boards including the EDCKC, YMCA of Greater Kansas City, Rockhurst University, the Associated Industries of Missouri, the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI), PREP-KC, and KC Rising. She is also the Chair of the EDCKC’s Legislative Committee, which is deeply involved in the lobbying of local and state officials with a direct impact on economic development.
Ms. Romious has also been serving as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Grandview Missouri Chamber of Commerce. Her leadership has been integral in working with the City and local business community leaders on several growth initiatives.
Important Initiatives & Sponsorships:
EDC Loan Corp Program
Sometimes business owners just need a boost. That’s exactly what the EDC Loan Corporation (EDCLC) does. The non-profit specializes in the origination and underwriting of Revolving Loan Funds to help for-profit, minority-owned business who have previously been turned down by a financial institution. The program has seen many local business owners successfully apply their loans to strengthen and grow their business such as: Urban Café (5500 Troost), Artis Photography & Event Space (3016 Cherry), The Sundry (300 E 39th St.), Delta Trenz (4200 E 35th St.), and more.
Interested in learning more? Click here
EDCKC Minority Accelerator
The results of an entrepreneurship study the EDCKC completed with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City stated that Kansas City is lagging behind nationally and among peer cities in entrepreneur diversity.
In response to this study, EDCKC is in the early stages of development is an EDCKC-led effort that will focus on identifying a select group of minority-owned businesses that will receive training via a year-long accelerator program. Details will be announced this spring about who should consider applying, what it will entail, and how this initiative will be integrated within the KCMO community. Stay tuned for more.
Diversity & Inclusion Track at Techweek
When faced with a report showcasing lags in minority participation in Kansas City’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, EDCKC leveraged its sponsorship of the Techweek conference to bring a full day of diversity and inclusion programming to the conference.
A first for Techweek, this dedicated track focused on bringing perspectives from successes in other communities and having the tough conversations about what it’ll take to improve.
The day’s discussions were lively, engaging, and it was evident that more efforts, such as the Minority Accelerator, should remain a city-wide priority.