Annual Luncheon to elevate momentum of Downtown KC

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Downtown Kansas City’s ascension into becoming the region’s leading destination for visitors, tourists, conventioneers and businesses will be the main course of the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon on Thursday at the Kansas City Convention Center.

The annual event Destination Downtown KC is expected to attract more than 1,000 business, civic and philanthropic leaders who will learn first-hand and celebrate Downtown’s progress, accomplishments and fiscal health.

Gov. Mike Parson will address the Downtown Council (DTC) audience on Thursday, his first appearance at a major Kansas City business gathering since taking office on June 1, as well as since delivering his first State of the State address on Jan. 16.

The Governor will speak immediately following a State of Downtown report and video delivered by William Dietrich, DTC president & CEO. The State of Downtown represents a statistical portrait of the health and trajectory of Downtown Kansas City, coupled with video images and testimonials from Downtown stakeholders.

Headlining the annual event will be a Keynote Conversation with Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of New York-based Loews Hotels & Co., and Jeffrey J. Jones II, president and CEO of Kansas City-based H&R Block. They will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead to maintain and accelerate the growth of Downtown KC.

Loews Kansas City Hotel – the $325 million convention hotel currently under construction at 1534 Baltimore – is due to open in spring 2020. It will be located a short walk from the H&R Block World Headquarters at 13th & Main. The H&R Block move to Downtown in 2006 has long been considered a critical turning point in the early stages of Downtown’s renaissance.

The Downtown Council’s annual event – this year, Destination Downtown KC – will illustrate how Downtown’s remarkable renaissance is attracting residents, conferences,  visitors, employers and workers to a thriving arts, cultural and business scene.

Downtown’s emerging role as a leading destination was underscored this week, when National Geographic Traveler selected Kansas City, Mo. as one of eight cities worldwide on its listing of 28 Best Trips Around the World that appears in its current edition.

“Most visitors to this Midwest outpost come for the barbecue and that jazz, but soon find themselves caught up in an urban renaissance,” the magazine reported.

The Destination theme also serves as a platform to showcase an urban hotel boom that is currently unfolding in Downtown, including a 200 percent increase in hotels (from eight in 2015 to 24 by 2020) and an 85 percent increase in rooms (from 3,414 to 6,415), including the 800-room Loews hotel.

Destination Downtown KC will celebrate progress and accomplishments; present awards; explore the trajectory of Downtown Kansas City for the long-term; and, enjoy the largest urban networking event of the year. The luncheon is set for 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Kay Barnes Ballroom at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Additional luncheon highlights

  • Presentation of the J. Philip Kirk Jr. Award in Recognition of Downtown Stewardship & Community Vision to Kay Barnes. The former mayor will be the 17th recipient of the Kirk Award, presented annually to leaders whose vision, guidance and commitment have helped set Downtown on a path for revitalization.
  • Presentation of the 2018 Urban Hero Awards honoring individuals who impact Downtown on the grassroots level. The Urban Heroes also will be honored during a reception on Wednesday evening outside of the Kay Barnes Ballroom. This year’s heroes include:
  • Presentation of the inaugural Harvey Fried Award for outstanding service by a Community Improvement District Ambassador to Daniel Moon, a Downtown CID Safety Ambassador.
  • Immediately before the luncheon, guests will participate in the Spirit of Downtown KC Exhibit. More than 50 booth spaces will highlight new developments, creative businesses and the arts of Downtown.

The Annual Luncheon will feature three honorary co-chairs, including Paul Neidlein, Midwest Regional President, JE Dunn Construction; Jeffrey J. Jones II, H&R Block; and Brenda Tinnen, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Sprint Center.

The Downtown Council appreciates the support of the luncheon’s Presenting Sponsor, JE Dunn Construction; our Platinum Sponsors, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Park University and Sprint Center. Click here to learn about our other corporate sponsors.

Luncheon planning chairs include Jerry Riffel, Attorney, Lathrop Gage, and 2019 chair the Downtown Council Board of Directors; Julie Pierce, Vice President / Director of Kansas City Operations, Henderson Engineers; and Nate Orr, Partner, Spencer Fane, and immediate past chair of the DTC Board of Directors.

To reserve your seats, visit  or contact Ann Holliday,, or Ashley Broockerd,