Tuesday, Mar. 19 2013 4:27PM
LSEDC: Taking the pulse of local economy and employers
By Jim Devine
The Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council works on many fronts to attract and retain investment in Lee’s Summit. One special focus is the Valued Industry Program, managed by LSEDC’s Vice President, Teresa Evans. In the last several months, LSEDC member volunteers have been visited with 38 local “primary” employers. Primary employers produce goods that are sold outside the area and bring new taxes and payroll money to Lee’s Summit from regional, national and international sales. Their collective outlook is positive. Sixty seven percent have plans for expansion in the next three years. Over half of the companies visited see their market share increasing while 36 percent are holding steady. Seventy seven percent (77 percent) of the existing companies visited sales increasing. Eighty-six percent added new products/services in the last five years and 78 percent have plans to add new products/services in the next two years.
With advancement and retooling with technology and processes, the workforce must change to keep pace. Getting people back to work may mean retraining for the jobs of today. LSEDC recently had the opportunity to assist in aligning retrained, dislocated workers with prospective Lee’s Summit employers. LSEDC reached out to its data base of more than 40 community distribution centers and manufacturers letting them know of available applicants from a training program. Employers who hire applicants will get 12 weeks of job training funds per hired employee – a win-win situation for all.
And our real estate market seems to be picking up. Residential is becoming a buyers’ market with depleting inventories of new and existing homes. And the commercial and industrial realtors are upbeat as well. LSEDC staff routinely facilitates meetings for the local commercial realtors. At the March meeting, they were seeing an up turn in the market. Nathan Anderson, principal, and Ben Boyd, associate, Lee & Associate Kansas City stated “since early February…the leasing and sale markets have picked up significantly. We’re seeing a sense of optimism from business owners and a desire to take advantage of their healthy cash positions, the low interest rate environment, and the availability of lending capital. We think 2013 will be a strong year for commercial real estate.”
And money fuels growth and development. EDC investor banks say they have fixed asset and working capital money to lend. The SBA is actively seeking new clients helping local banks leverage their money further. Even Show-Me Angels – a local angel investor group started by LSEDC – has recently connected angel investors who have invested $400,000 with two local startup companies. And LSEDC is working with an existing company needing $3 million in working capital to grow to the next level.
All in all, 2013 is starting to look like a good year for quality growth and development and the city has several projects in the pipeline. LSEDC, a local public/private partnership supported by the city, R-7, (Blue Springs) R-4 and 140 investors, looks forward to continue fulfilling its mission to attract and retain investment in Lee’s Summit by partnering with allies to create and market a high quality of life, pro-business community.