Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders and other County staff led local and state elected officials on a tour of key economic development sites within the county this morning. Major stops on the tour included sites that already are or will soon become focal points for economic development in Blue Springs, Independence and Lee's Summit.
Joining Sanders on the tour were County Legislator Theresa Garza Ruiz (1st District At-Large) and the mayors from the three cities: Carson Ross (Blue Springs), Don Reimal (Independence) and Randy Rhoads (Lee's Summit). Also on the tour were State Senator Will Kraus; State Representatives Gary Cross, Jeanie Lauer, Brent Lasater, Shelia Solon, Mike Cierpoit, Jeff Grisamore and Tom McDonald; and the presidents of the three communities' Economic Development Councils: Brient Starner (Blue Springs), Tom Lesnak (Independence) and Jim Devine (Lee's Summit). Matt Haase from United States Senator Roy Blunt's Office took the tour as well.
"We organized this tour to demonstrate that, even in these difficult economic times, Jackson County is still growing and capable of attracting companies that have a global reach," said Sanders, after the tour concluded.
The tour showcased the Missouri Innovation Park in Blue Springs, the Independence Regional Ennovation Center and the ongoing bio-tech and "green energy" initiatives in Lee's Summit.
Missouri Innovation Park
The Innovation Park features the University of Missouri (MU) Mizzou Center as an anchor tenant and strategic partner. The Mizzou Center offers services that range from technical counseling for local businesses to academic programs for both undergraduate and graduate students. When it opened last spring, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton noted the Center marked just the beginning of the University's commitment to the Innovation Park project.
Current economic projections for the Innovation Park forecast more than 40 companies participating within the next 15 to 25 years, 3,700 jobs being created -- on top of 2,500 temporary construction jobs -- and 900,000 square feet of real estate being developed. Plans for expanding the Mizzou Center entail allocating 10 acres for MU based programs, including office buildings, a Science & Technology facility and a collaborative lab.
The Park is attempting to attract entrepreneurs in the fields of science, innovation and technology.
The Ennovation Center
The Independence Regional Ennovation Center focuses on growing businesses in three core areas: bio-tech, kitchen/culinary and technology. The Center has transformed the former Independence Regional Medical Center into a launching pad for entrepreneurs seeking to start a business in a collaborative environment.
The Center provides an Incubator Program to assist fledgling small businesses through offering affordable space, shared administrative/office services and equipment, along with management assistance. The Center has created a network of professionals who are available to offer clients expert guidance.
Visit ennovationcenter.com for more information.
Lee's Summit On The Rise
"Green" technology and alternative energy, in addition to bioscience, are the primary factors helping spark economic development in Lee's Summit. Case in point, Exergonix Incorporate, a company with operations around the globe, announced in January that it would be locating its world headquarters in Lee's Summit.
According to the company's website, Exergonix is seeking to develop environmentally friendly methods to more efficiently produce, store and distribute energy to "help the Earth alleviate its dependency on fossil fuels and save the environment for our children." The company's plan in Lee's Summit calls for building a $90 million manufacturing facility and learning campus.
Exergonix expects to bring 275 jobs to the area within the next five years, with an average starting salary being around $51,000.
Other Lee's Summit developments touted during the tour included:
•The Summit Technology Center, featuring 1,000,000 square feet of space, of which 99.7 percent has been leased. (More than 5,000 people are currently employed at this location.)
•The bio-science industry with both Viracor-IBT and Acceleration Laboratory Services being based in Lee's Summit.
•Dow Kokam, a business that local entrepreneur Don Nissanka founded as Kokam and in 2008 merged with Dow Chemical. Dow Kokam provides state-of-the-art lithium ion batteries for defense and industrial applications. The company's Research & Development Center in Lee's Summit is a world-class facility, featuring more than $40 million in automated equipment. The Jackson County Economic Development Department is working with all communities within the County to collaborate on efforts to attract more development to the area.
"Today's tour helped demonstrate how developments in one community have a ripple effect throughout the entire County and Greater Kansas City region," Sanders said. "We want to expand on these ongoing developments -- hold them up as an example to other entrepreneurs that this is an area where they too want to set up shop and do business."