New EDC boss thinking big

Former Liberty eco devo director McDowell tabbed to lead LS

jbeaudoin@lsjournal.comJuly 9, 2014 

Rick McDowell surrounded himself July 9 in a big room, filled with big names, and a big barbeque buffet.

It was part of his welcome to the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council as the newest president and CEO, taking the reigns from Jim Devine, who retired in May after 15 years at the helm.

With Jack Stack barbeque to his right and CEOs of multi-million dollar businesses to his left, McDowell said he was eager to meet the challenge of the new job.

“I am extremely excited about being a part of Lee’s Summit, working with this group, particularly the city,” said McDowell, a 35-year eco devo veteran, most recently as the executive director of the Liberty Economic Development Corporation, at the LSEDC’s Annual Meeting at the Emaline Ballroom.

McDowell has a massive “to do” list ahead of him, most notably, he said, getting in front of the Kansas City Area Development Council.

“I’m going to make sure we have a great relationship with them,” he said.

LSEDC Chairman Brad Cox said he and his executive team were confident they’ve made the right hire for the new chapter of Lee’s Summit development to be written.

“Rick’s experience in all levels of economic development will provide us a great place to change the dynamic moving forward,” Cox said. “Our needs today are different than what they were 20 years ago.”

Cox said McDowell will start work Aug. 1, but will participate in the EDC’s joint retreat with the city council on July 31. McDowell will be looking at available inventory around Lee’s Summit and meeting investors early on, Cox said.

McDowell said he’s been familiar with Lee’s Summit for many years, coming to the area for sporting and social events. His new view, however, will be from a very different angle.

“We have a good retail base here, now it’s time to look at office space and manufacturing,” he said.

In addition to Liberty, McDowell has job experience with the Missouri Department of Economic Development and the Columbia Regional Economic Development.

McDowell will step into a role vacated by Devine on May 15. Steve Cohen, CEO of Labor Management Group, stepped into an interim role while the national search was conducted.

Devine led the LSEDC for 15 years during a time of massive retail and population growth. He was only the third president since the formation of the EDC in 1986.

In 2010, Devine was named the Professional Economic Developer of the Year in Missouri.

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