LS aerospace company joins list of firms looking for incentives to expand

rpulley@lsjournal.comOctober 3, 2013 

Businesses from flower shops to a small aerospace company are taking notice of Lee’s Summit’s work to create zones providing tax incentives for redevelopment.

Planning is underway for redevelopment of a corridor along Missouri 291 and U.S. 50, and recently owners of property in a business park northeast of Interstate 470 and Woods Chapel Road also asked the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority to consider a redevelopment district there.

The authority’s board Sept. 25 decided to contract with Chris Sally of Development Initiatives to work on studies for those areas. A preliminary boundary has been decided for Missouri 291 and U.S. 50, but discussion is only beginning on the area at Woods Chapel Road.

The authority will have meetings with property owners in the potential redevelopment areas to discuss the advantages of the zones and owners’ ideas.

A redevelopment area is already in place covering downtown Lee’s Summit. Two businesses now open were awarded incentives, Licata’s Flowers and Accessories on Third Street and The Stanley on Douglas Street.

A third application for an orthodontist’s clinic, on Third Street, is to be on the City Council’s Oct. 10 agenda.

“It’s gaining momentum,” LCRA Chairman Keith Asel said.

While possible tax incentives are attractive to business, the mix of projects that’ll be attractive to the Lee’s Summit City Council is now playing out.

Council member David Mosby said Lee’s Summit’s has a poor history of creating jobs and finding new tools is necessary to move the city forward. So he applauds the creation of redevelopment areas.

“If there are appropriate incentives we can apply to create jobs, then I’m for it,” Mosby said.

Informal discussions have started on using LCRA incentives for apartment buildings east of City Hall.

Developers of Park Place in Leawood, Kan., have suggested building a four-story apartment complex, using tax incentives through the LCRA to offset the cost of a parking structure. The Licata’s project included residential space on a second floor, but the city only approved tax breaks on the commercial areas, abating the increase in property taxes 100 percent for 10 years, starting this year.

The latest possible project considering incentives is Ultrax Aerospace, Asel announced to the City Council and LCRA during recent meetings.

Asel said the firm is preparing a five-year expansion plan where the city could gain up to 50 quality jobs, paying on average $53,000 a year.

That multimillion dollar Lee’s Summit company designs and builds portable diagnostic equipment used by mechanics and technicians working on military aircraft. Ultrax’s products are mainly used for servicing helicopters.

Don Brown, vice president of sales and marketing for Ultrax, said the company is creating a new division for fast-tracking development and production of additional devices.

It plans include refurbishing a building near its headquarters and manufacturing facility at 4200 NE Sun Ct. in Lee’s Summit and also build a new headquarters on an adjacent property, so it can further expand manufacturing in the present site as well.

Brown said Ultrax’s expansion plans aren’t dependent on the tax incentives but with assistance it would be able to move faster and capture even a greater market share, firmly establishing itself against competitors.

“It allows us take to take the new division to the next level in a reasonably short order,” Don Brown said.

Ultrax was founded by brothers Chris and Brian Lincoln (started in a basement at home in 1995) and has grown to 50 employees.

Brown said it company continues to innovate and has “cracked the code” for developing working prototypes much faster for demonstrations and then to full production.

“We’re really excited about this, it gives us a real advantage over the competition,” Brown said.

Asel said that other businesses in the area Ultrax is located that also are interested in the concept. He said the 20-year-old business park is an area the city needs to “keep going while also developing Ralph Powell Road.”

Bill Brown, an LCRA board member and vice chair of the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council’s executive committee said he has toured Ultrax.

“They’re a secret in Lee’s Summit and it’s exactly the kind of business we want to keep here,” Brown said.

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