Facing financial facts about urban Kansas

"Charting alternative paths is difficult even in the best of times. But being serious about what can be achieved in Kansas’s cities today–by focusing on incremental and sustainable growth, rather than grand, top-down plans — is essential."



September 14, 2020 - 8:25 AM

The JC Nichols fountain on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.

Depending on the definitions you use, the residents of Kansas’s rural counties and small towns make up less than a third, and perhaps as little as a quarter, of the state’s total population. Despite our reputation as a rural farming state, Kansas is surprisingly urban.

For this reason, it’s important to do what hasn’t been done often enough, and think seriously about the fate of Kansas’s cites, both their limitations and their strengths.

Chase Billingham, a professor of sociology at Wichita State University, recently reviewed the effects covid-19 has had on cities across America, focusing on matters of particular concern to Kansans. Foremost among them is that our largest cities are in many ways both overbuilt and underfunded, making them more susceptible to the current financial crises than they ought to be.

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