Lee’s Summit’s Community and Economic Development Committee is holding a series of meetings which will last through this summer to consider how to recharge the city’s redevelopment efforts.
The committee in prior months has gotten presentations on roles played by the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council, the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street Inc., the Kansas City Area Development Council, Missouri Department of Economic Development and others.
One issue that has been raised is whether City Hall should have more direct control over economic development programs. Presently the city provides funding to the LSEDC and Chamber for some of those efforts.
In coming months, the Community and Economic Development Committee will have a joint meeting with the Planning Commission to write a mission statement and vision to be presented to the council, then it plans a series of workshops to develop specific goals, objectives and action steps in a master plan to be adopted by the council.
“That’s where it gets exciting because we get all of our community partners involved and everybody’s help,” Lee’s Summit City Councilman Dave Mosby said. “And plan this for the future so that all of us together have a direction in economic development.”
Mosby asked Rick Viar, Chairman of the LSEDC Board of Directors, for his opinion at the Feb. 20 meeting.
Viar said that Lee’s Summit needs to have its business leaders active as volunteers on regional boards and committees, such as the Kansas City Area Development Council because there are too many meetings for Jim Devine, the LSEDC’s staff leader, to attend himself. That way Lee’s Summit can be assured of getting more exposure to business leaders active in choosing locations.
He noted that city support for an independent LSEDC is important too. Its budget is about $500,000 with about half coming from the public sector.
He said each year 80 to 100 business leaders make donations to the LSEDC because they know their investment matters and they have ownership in the organization.
“If there was no EDC, if it was a function of the city, it’s my opinion the private sector dollars would dwindle,” Viar said. “There wouldn’t be the feeling of the community ownership of the process.”