Contreras named chair of chamber’s Kansas City, Mo., committee



“I’m all about elevating voices and bringing more voices to the table”





“At first I was surprised. I didn’t expect it,” Pat Contreras recalls, referring to the moment that the chamber’s leaders asked him to serve in this new capacity. “I have such love for the chamber. They do such good in the community. I was deeply honored and it was quite humbling to be asked to serve.”



BY JOE ARCE AND COREY CRABLE

When he ran for State Treasurer of Missouri, Pat Contreras drove a lot of miles, pressed a lot of flesh, and met a lot of people.


Even though he ultimately lost that race, Contreras gained a lot more – the ability to take those political connections made and turn them into business connections that will work for everyone.


The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, of which Contreras is a member, took notice of his ability to make those connections and to advocate for marginalized and underrepresented residents. The chamber recently rewarded Contreras with a new position as Chair of the Kansas City, Mo., Committee. The appointment carries a two-year term.


“At first I was surprised. I didn’t expect it,” Contreras recalls, referring to the moment that the chamber’s leaders asked him to serve in this new capacity. “I have such love for the chamber. They do such good in the community. I was deeply honored and it was quite humbling to be asked to serve.”


In his new role, Contreras, a native Kansas Citian who holds degrees in economics and international studies from Saint Louis University, will oversee a committee tasked with discussing business issues affecting Kansas City, Mo., residents and business owners specifically. For someone with a heart for serving others, Contreras says, the new appointment is a perfect fit.


“I’ve (always had) a passion for community, for doing what’s best for Kansas City,” he says. “And even though I lost the State Treasurer election, I met a lot of wonderful people across Missouri, and I wanted to leverage that success to the next level of business leadership. I’m trying to help bridge the gap between civil society, the business community, political leadership, nonprofit leadership and the community at large. I’m all about elevating voices and bringing more voices to the table.”


When he’s not gathering those voices, Contreras works as the business development and government affairs director for local construction firm McCownGordon Construction. There, he coordinates business development whose projects are worth more than $250 million in the region.


Even though it might seem like Contreras is always busy with one commitment or another – he also serves on boards for Truman Medical Centers, the Midwest Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, the Independence Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Council and the Health Forward Foundation – he wouldn’t have it any other way.


“I do believe firmly that my family always taught me values of hard work and fighting for what you believe in,” says Contreras, who grew up in the West Side neighborhood. “I look at my grandfather and the sacrifices he made in World War II and then come back to build a home for my grandmother on the West Side. For me, it’s honoring that legacy and elevating the generation that comes after me.”


He also hopes to elevate those voices that are not often heard enough, including those of minorities.


“One of the things I think about is structural racism in our society and in Kansas City, and how we can tackle that at the policy level, like in hiring or in giving Latinos access to capital,” Contreras says. “We want to help Latino, Black, and Asian businesses thrive in our community, and fight for economic equity, inclusion and justice.”


For more information on the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce itself, visit www.kcchamber.com.