Annual EDC luncheon brings laughter, serious business

tporter@lsjournal.comJuly 12, 2013 

The jokes flowed and the scripts flew at the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council’s annual meeting, but in the end the organization’s new chair brought a rather interesting take on how to move forward with economic development in the city.

Brad Cox, who was introduced as the new chair at the meeting July 10 inside his own Emaline Ballroom, was full of quips, prompting laughter and smiles before, during and after his introduction.

Summit Bank of Kansas City President and CEO Rick Viar, outgoing EDC chair, introduced Cox, of Langsford Development.

Cox got the ball rolling when he ditched a podium full of papers that was supposed to house his script for his brief presentation. EDC members howled as the papers scattered, but by the end of the meeting, Cox was all business.

He used late Apple magnate Steve Jobs as an example of how Lee’s Summit should approach economic development in the city.

“Who has one of these?” Cox said as he displayed his iPhone toward the end of the meeting. “Anybody have one of these? If you are not carrying an iPhone today, you’re carrying a semblance to the iPhone. I believe the term for that is smartphone. When Steve Jobs was getting ready to roll out the iPhone, everybody in his organization – from his No. 2 right on down to the janitor – said, ‘that’s not going to work. You can’t make a new phone.’

“Everybody in his circle thought he was nuts. They thought it wouldn’t work. They said, ‘there are too many people out here making these phones efficiently and, economically they are ahead of the curve. Every time one comes out we have to get a new one because they are smaller and have better features and you can’t do that. You can’t succeed at that.’ And he said, ‘you are exactly right, if I was selling a phone. I am not selling a phone, I’m selling an experience and I need a new phone to deliver that experience.’

“We have to remember that it ain’t about the phone anymore. It’s been about the phone the last 30 years, but it’s not about the phone anymore. It’s about the experience that the phone delivers. That’s what our community has to look forward to in development. The new phase of development – the changes that we are looking for here – I hope we can develop some apps.”

The meeting also included a Arts Impact KC presentation from Harlan Brownlee, president and CEO of Greater KC Arts Council. The gist of Brownlee’s remarks centered on a study that showed the economic impact the arts has on the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. Brownlee mentioned Lee’s Summit as a heavy player out in the forefront of the creative arts movement.

“You have been one of the very first communities to create a cultural arts climate,” he said. “Looking at the value of the arts in the community, and how the arts can aid economic development. So, my hat’s off to you for the work that you’ve done.”

The meeting also included the introduction of the newest board member, Jeff Chambers, and the presentation of the EDC’s Mayor Community and Economic Development Award to Keith Asel, regional president of Hawthorn Bank.

A brief overview of LSEDC’s annual report was also presented.

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