February 26, 2011

EDC staying focused on job creation in Independence

By Tom Lesnak

The past year certainly presented our community with its share of challenges but, in typical Independence fashion, the challenges were converted to opportunities and the result is a community that is continuing to grow and expand with new economic opportunities for our citizens.
As we reflect on 2010, we saw the opening of the first stretch of the Little Blue Parkway, an announcement of a new business park in the Little Blue Valley, the redevelopment of the Independence Regional Health Center into a mixed-use business incubator, the launch of the BuyiN program, major improvements within many of the school facilities, and – the best news of all – we saw that local companies added more than 700 new employees and made just more than $29 million in new private capital investment.

Companies such as ATK Small Caliber Systems and Centerpoint Medical Center led the way providing high-quality jobs in the areas of defense and health care, two of the sectors that continue to be a strength for our community and sectors that we can build upon as we move forward. By all standards, 2010 was a pretty good year that any community would be proud of.

As we move forward into 2011, there is no doubt some exciting times lie ahead for Independence. We will continue to work with our partners to solve issues and create opportunities. As an economic development organization, we are staying focused on job creation, efforts to redevelop older areas of the community, raising the image and profile of Independence within the metro and supporting the opportunities for entrepreneurial growth. We will continue to concentrate on retaining our existing businesses while also attracting new employers who can help diversify our job base and provide employment with wages and benefits that can increase the quality of life for our residents.

This year we will launch an economic gardening program, which will provide support for second-stage companies on the verge of major growth. We’ll help businesses cooperatively market their goods and services both locally, nationally and internationally so their growth can foster new job creation and enhanced wealth in our community.

The competition to grow the economic base is fierce, and it will take our entire community working together to move it forward. Our success is not measured by awards, but by jobs and the quality of life that our residents enjoy.

That is truly the measurement of progress.