After decades of disinvestment in the area, the three-day Heartland Equitable Development Symposium (Heartland EDS) will bring together private, public, and nonprofit groups hoping to affect change in Kansas City’s east side through economic empowerment.

Heartland EDS was put together by Equitable Development Partners, LLC, a private real estate development company, which is joining forces with Kansas City G.I.F.T., the Economic Development Corporation of KC, The Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, Health Forward Foundation, and LISC-KC. 

The collaboration represents some of the largest Black-lead groups in the city, all working to empower the city’s historically underserved east side. Just by itself, Kansas City G.I.F.T. granted nearly half a million dollars to Black-owned businesses last year. 

Marvin Lyman, the point person behind Heartland EDS, is working to create a culture of collaboration and investment in hopes of driving economic equity as a result of the symposium. 

“Effecting change demands recognition, determination, financial resources, sound policy, and individuals empowered to leverage these assets toward the desired outcome,” said Lyman 

The Heartland EDS aims to make this vision a reality by rallying the best minds and advocates committed to uplifting the East Side.

The Heartland Equitable Development Symposium takes place Oct 18 – 20 and is free to attend. The symposium starts the evening of the 18th with networking and a keynote speaker. The 19th features the “Dividing Line and Development Tour,” a deep dive into Kansas City’s history marred by systemic racism, including redlining and blockbusting. 

When developing the Plaza and certain neighborhoods in KC, JC Nichols utilized redlining and blockbusting to create economic and racial disparities in KC, a model that was repeated nationwide.

“Bankers, enterprise businesses, investors, elected officials, and the philanthropic community must gain first-hand insight into the historical legacy and prevailing systemic policies that hinder economic development on Kansas City’s east side,” said Lyman. 

The Heartland EDS concludes on the 20th with workshops, break-out sessions, and esteemed speakers, followed by dinner and entertainment at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. 

The Heartland EDS hopes to offer resources and connections to help drive further development in Kansas City’s east side, which has served as the city’s historic racial and economic dividing line. 

“We are bringing together the most brilliant minds and some of the most capitalized partners to make change. There is no reason we can’t do it with this synchronized effort and deliberate focus.”
For further information and registration details, visit

Prior to joining The Community Voice, he worked as a reporter & calendar editor with The Pitch, writing instructor with The Kansas City Public Library, and as a contributing food writer for Kansas...