Brown v Board mural

Our work began in 2017, and it is hard to imagine
another time our community has experienced the progress we’ve seen through Momentum 2022. Topeka unified with strategic intention to develop a community plan that Topeka and Shawnee County could rally around. The rallying cry was “Momentum,” and that word alone found its way into our conversations and initiatives. The purpose and mission of the Momentum 2022 strategic plan was to…

“… measurably improve access to
opportunity for all people and organizations,
to experience increased hope, health,
happiness, and prosperity.”

Momentum 2022 was supported by a strong and nimble structure comprised of the Greater Topeka Partnership Chair’s Council, the Momentum 2022 Executive Committee, the Steering/Implementation Committee, and various workgroups with subcommittees. The Greater Topeka Partnership served as the gatekeeper responsible for ensuring that the community’s strategy would be executed and that the partnership’s efforts aligned with the plan, which encompassed five primary pillars.

Beneath those five pillars lay 14 objectives and 54 strategic initiatives. The community took ownership of this comprehensive strategy and advanced the plan through workgroups, special initiatives, and organizational/business efforts county-wide. The exhaustive commitment by community members resulted in 95% completion of the strategy by the end of 2022, with additional initiatives identified and advanced during the plan’s course. We consider this to be a monumental sign of success and believe 100% completion will never be achieved because there is always more work to be done.

Most evident from 2017 to 2022 is the growing level of positivity and hope expressed by the community, accompanied by improved internal and external perceptions of Topeka. With our Net Promoter Score at -27 — a 63% increase over the initial NPS of -55 — positive promotion of Topeka, Shawnee County continues.

There have also been a number of empirical indicators
that have been pivotal to the ongoing success of Momentum 2022. They include:

• The creation of the Greater Topeka Partnership;
• Continued business investment in the community;
• The creation of Washburn Tech in East Topeka, as
well as other Washburn University improvements;
• Topeka’s partnership with Plug and Play; and
• A strong network of public-private partnerships in
the community.

As was the case for many organizations and communities, COVID-19 slowed the pace of Momentum 2022, but community members returned to the plan to finish their work, acknowledging that progress made through the strategy better prepared Topeka and Shawnee County to come together in our time of need and manage more effectively through the pandemic.

But the truth is — our work isn’t done. In fact, by some measures, it has just begun. The community’s future requires us to begin transitioning to Momentum 2027, our next five-year development plan. Momentum 2027 will allow us to celebrate the community’s successes, critique our efforts, and double down on our ability to mobilize and create change. I am confident the next strategy will encourage us to dream bigger, because we can already see how capable our community is.

Michelle Cuevas-Stubblefield
Senior Vice President of Strategy

Strategic Objectives

Momentum 2022 strategies focus on 57 objectives within five community pillars, they include: Develop homegrown talent, Create vibrant & attractive places, Grow a diverse economy, Promote a positive image, and Collaborate for a strong community.  

1.1 Align the “Talent Pipeline”

1.1.1 Create a “Cradle Through Career” (CTC) collective impact partnership dedicated to raising talent levels in Topeka- Shawnee County

1.1.2 Utilize student-level data to gauge the effectiveness of programs and guide partnership decision-making

1.2 Ensure that All Children are Ready for Kindergarten

1.2.1 Develop a comprehensive approach to preparing Topeka-Shawnee County’s youngest residents for kindergarten

2.1 Optimize Tools and Programs to Improve Quality of Place

2.1.1 Build public support for public-private partnerships and other incentives and investments that enhance quality of place

2.1.2 Create a restaurant development program to expand social offerings

2.1.3 Identify and attract retailers that expand local options and improve quality of life

2.1.4 Create a community-wide loan program to incentivize new and existing homeowners to rehab high-quality housing stock in need of repairs and updates

2.1.5 Expand and pursue options to address blighted properties and ensure responsible ownership

2.1.6 Adopt a collaborative program of highly targeted neighborhood beautification revitalization

1.3 Prepare Students for College and Careers

1.3.1 Introduce students to college and career opportunities at a young age and develop “career pathways” for students to identify entrance points into promising and in-demand fields

1.3.2 Align new and existing programs to engage at-risk students, dropouts, and parents

1.3.3 Connect businesses with education providers to identify opportunities for new degree programs and curricula that support business growth

1.3.4 Create a community-wide internship initiative to help employers identify emerging talent and to attach young professionals to Topeka-Shawnee County

1.4 Expand Continuing Education and Training Options for Adults

1.4.1 Incentivize adults without college degrees to further their education and gain new skills

1.4.2 Establish a physical center for workforce development and training in East Topeka

2.2 Develop a Dynamic Regional Core

2.2.1 Pursue a catalytic mixed-use development in Downtown Topeka

2.2.2 Incentivize the development of new housing and supportive neighborhood retail in Downtown Topeka

2.2.3 Work with partners at the state level to open the Kansas State Capitol on weekends

2.2.4 Advance the NOTO Arts District Master Plan to accelerate the area’s momentum as a vibrant, creative community

2.2.5 Activate the Kansas River as a destination and recreational amenity

2.2.6 Ensure strong multimodal connectivity within and around the community’s core

2.3 Invest in Infrastructure that Enhances Quality of Place

2.3.1 Continue to invest in infrastructure that enhances mobility and quality of place

2.3.2 Continue to improve gateways into Topeka-Shawnee County, particularly those connecting the community to population centers

3.1 Enhance the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

3.1.1 Support a new physical space for 712 Innovations to establish a hub of entrepreneurship, innovation, and networking in Downtown Topeka

3.1.2 Develop a pre-seed microloan program to open up entrepreneurship to individuals who lack access to traditional capital

3.1.3 Explore options to expand the availability of angel capital in Topeka- Shawnee County

3.1.4 Adopt an “economic gardening” program to help local second-stage firms thrive

3.2 Maintain a Best-Practice Economic Development Program

3.2.1 Continue business retention and expansion (BR&E) activities to ensure that Topeka-Shawnee County’s existing firms remain and thrive in the community

3.2.2 Establish business councils to support Topeka-Shawnee County’s target sectors 

3.2.3 Ensure that Topeka-Shawnee County is actively networked in the KC Animal Health Corridor

3.2.4 Conduct a review of GO Topeka’s economic development marketing program to ensure it aligns with industry best practices

3.3 Pursue Policies that Support Holistic Economic Development

3.3.1 Conduct a review of incentive policies to determine if available offerings are sufficiently flexible to support a broad range of economic development goals.

3.3.2 Work collaboratively with regional partners to ensure that advocacy agendas are aligned with strategic community and economic development needs

4.2 Project a Positive Message to Residents and Outside Talent

4.2.1 Adopt a multi-platform strategy to communicate positive news and developments locally within Topeka- Shawnee County

4.2.2 Engage HR professionals, executives, real estate professionals, and other key influences to highlight quality of life in Topeka-Shawnee County

4.2.3 Launch a “boomerang” talent marketing program to inform educated people with local roots about positive new developments and opportunities in Topeka-Shawnee County

4.2.4 Utilize “earned media” to improve external perceptions of Topeka- Shawnee County

5.1 Foster and Promote a Diverse and Inclusive Topeka-Shawnee County

5.1.1 Establish a diversity business council to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion

5.1.2 Establish a community-wide program to connect new and existing employee resource groups (ERGs) that promote diversity and inclusion

5.1.3 Promote diversity on boards in Topeka- Shawnee County

5.2 Encourage Healthy, Safe, and Engaged Communities

5.2.1 Create a community-wide volunteer initiative focused on neighborhood improvements and bridging geographic and cultural gaps

5.2.2 Support “social enterprise” startups and small businesses that serve the community

5.2.3 Create an anchor-based community wealth building (CWB) initiative to expand opportunities and build wealth in low-income communities

5.2.4 Adopt a collaborative approach to public safety

5.2.5 Continue to support Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods and other initiatives identified in the Shawnee County Community Needs Assessment

Rev. 11/21/2019