Q&A with Phil
Phil is a husband, father, business owner, non-profit leader, and community activist. With his local family business, Phil has brought $1.2 billion to economically distressed communities across the country by uniting banks, investors, non-profits, for-profits, elected officials, and volunteers alike in a common strategic vision. He aims to accomplish the same for Kansas City.
He has worked in every region of the country, engaged with issues internationally, and is now running to serve as Kansas City’s next mayor. Phil wanted to answer a few questions so you could get to know him better.
What’s something you’ve learned while serving Kansas City?
Standing up can come at a cost. I know this not only from being 6’4” and hitting my head on things but also from my time as a member of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) commission here in KC.
During my time there, I learned that our city’s development community is talented and creative, but they were using that energy, too often, in parts of KC that were already doing well. You are defined in business by the deals you don’t do. I opposed projects that didn’t get returns for the whole community. My opposition to business-as-usual eventually got me removed, but it sparked needed conversation about reform.
What does Kansas City need to invest in?
People—all of our people. I’ve worked with private investors to bring the first Educare school to tribal land, high-speed internet to Alaska Native communities for the first time, and a 21st century water system to a Southwestern community in the midst of a water crisis.
What do these diverse communities have in common? Typical investors had overlooked them. I see value where others don’t. What does this have to do with Kansas City? I see value in every Kansas City neighborhood, not just those that are already prospering. It’s time to invest in all of our people.
Investing in people isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s good for business. My wife, Elizabeth, and I employ 50 people in Kansas City. We pay a minimum of $15/hour, offer paid family leave, and create a culture of collaboration because that’s how you attract talented people.
How has your family shaped you and your view of Kansas City?
My 9-year-old loves to draw and inspires me to be more creative. My 6-year-old loves to build forts in the yard and helps me hold onto a sense of adventure. My 4-year-old loves telling the rest of us what to do. Raising them in Kansas City has me focused not just on the next four years, but on the next generation.
Elizabeth and I know that every family has its own unique makeup, its own unique story. Our family is excited about this new chapter. We know, by working together, we can lift up every family in Kansas City.