Anita Maltbia is the director of the Mid-America Regional Council’s Green Impact Zone initiative (President Barack Obama cited the Green Impact Zone in a July 13 news conference on the White House’s new vision for urban and metropolitan policy.)
1 How will your experience as Kansas City’s assistant city manager, as well as your training on management, communication and cultural diversity, transfer to your new position as Green Impact Zone director? As an assistant city manager, part of your job is to coordinate, to create coalescence and to think strategically. With the diversity portion, in working for the Green Impact Zone, I’ll be dealing with people from all walks of life.
2 What role do you think the green industry plays in stimulating the economy during this time of recession? If we roll our tapes back, the green industry had become a burgeoning industry before the recession. It was clear that we as a country and in fact, the whole world, was going to have to become better environmental stewards. In doing that, it was going to create whole new businesses and jobs. I think it was kind of a natural for the president to view this particular area as one of the ways to jump start the jobs and therefore the economy.
3 Since you retired from the city of Kansas City in 2003 and you’ve been involved with various civic and nonprofit organizations, how does it feel to now work for a federal stimulus-funded initiative? Working for this particular initiative really allows me to pull together my professional and volunteer experiences. I don’t view it as working for a federal initiative. I view it as an opportunity to pull together a culmination of different experiences I’ve had.
4 What kind of connection do you feel to the neighborhoods in the 150 blocks of Kansas City’s urban core? I grew up in Kansas City. I’m very familiar with the urban core as I have always lived in the urban core except when I lived away from Kansas City for several years. As a child, I knew the city as viable and vibrant. It has been, for a long time, distressful to me to see it degenerate into such an economically depressed area. I feel a very strong connection because it’s such a part of my history.
5 How familiar are you with Independence, and how do you think the Neighborhood Stabilization Program could affect vacant lots in Independence? I have become more familiar with Independence since working with Jackson County government. The good news, I believe, for Independence and any other part of our region that is not part of the 150 blocks is that if we can be successful with the Green Impact Zone, the benefits will radiate out from that zone. The people who live in the 150 square blocks obviously don’t just stay in their 150 square-block area. Anything that can be done to improve their area will travel throughout the region. Washington (D.C.) has already stated that if the Green Impact Zone is successful, it will be used as a national model. If we are able to get some very good and impactful things done, we can expect then that we will attract more funding to be used in the region.