Economy

Courtesy Block Real Estate Services

Construction on the first multi-tenant office tower to go up in the Country Club Plaza in more than a decade is expected to begin this summer following approval of final incentives.

The 14-story 46 Penn Centre project is planned for 46th Terrace and Pennsylvania Avenue just north of the Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist by Block Real Estate Services.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

It’s been 30 years since metropolitan Kansas City’s beltway, Interstate 435, was completed, and its important role as a route for economic development has been a tale of two states.

In southern Johnson County, where the first leg of I-435 opened between I-35 and Metcalf Avenue in 1965, smart planning by local and state leaders has made the I-435 corridor that area’s bustling main street.

Kevin Collison for KCUR

North Kansas City is opening a new “front door” on Armour Road, transforming land once dominated by massive flour mills into a mixed-use district that includes an $8 million jewelry store.

KC Hotel Developers LLC

The planned $310 million convention hotel project is expected to create a better pedestrian connection between major downtown destinations as well as provide dramatic views for its guests, its architect says.

“We believe that this building should be designed for the residents of Kansas City,” architect Bob Neal of Atlanta-based Cooper Carry told the City Plan Commission Tuesday.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri historic tax credit program, a development tool that’s revived scores of landmark buildings, is facing its most serious challenge in years, putting such major projects as the redevelopment of Kemper Arena in jeopardy.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Mike Farmer’s high-tech startup, Leap.It, caught the attention of AOL founder Steve Case in October 2014 because Farmer’s company was built in the first house hooked up with Google Fiber.

Case loved the irony of the David of Kansas City taking on the Goliath of Google.

“You’re undermining Google right here in the Start-Up Village in Kansas City,” Case said at the time. “On Google Fiber! That’s pretty cheeky!”

Farmer doesn’t remember the cheeky line, but the Google angle is “an interesting story line,” he said.

Mid-America Regional Council

In the Kansas City metro area, the economy added about 25,000 jobs over the past year and is now growing at a rate of about two and a half percent per year.

Frank Lenk, who specializes in economic and demographic forecasts for the Mid-America Regional Council, says this is above historical norms of about two percent.

He says the figures for the Kansas City economy show two sectors creating the most jobs.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s East Side is receiving renewed attention this year with several initiatives aimed at attracting investment to an area that’s struggled economically for many decades.

 

Topping the list is a grassroots proposal championed by East Side clergy and others that will ask voters next month to approve a 1/8th cent sales tax increase. It would generate an estimated $8 million annually to support development east of Troost Avenue.

 

There are other new plans and proposals as well.

 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that St. Louis can raise their minimum wage to $11 by 2018. 

This reverses a lower court's decision in 2015, which struck down the increase because it would conflict with a state law that prohibits municipalities from enacting a minimum wage higher than the state's. 

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has announced the expansion of the Hire KC Youth program into a city-wide initiative. The program offers about 200 summer internships but the Mayor appealed to about 80 businesspeople and employment groups at a breakfast meeting to provide more.  

“There is no better social program than a job,” said James. “And when kids have work, when they have a sense of responsibility, then their entire world opens up and barriers and walls fall.”

Foutch Brothers, LLC

An ambitious $30 million plan to convert the Kemper Arena into a bustling center for amateur athletics won support for tax incentives Thursday from a public development agency.

The Planned Industrial Expansion Authority approved a 12-year property tax abatement for the redevelopment project of the arena in the West Bottoms being pursued by Foutch Brothers. The PIEA also authorized up to $24 million in revenue bonds for the project.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

President Donald Trump’s threats to disrupt trade with Mexico aren’t just concerning people south of the border. Each time Trump attacks the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the executives at a 130-year-old railroad with headquarters in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, hold their breath. Like a lot of U.S. companies Kansas City Southern depends on cross-border trade.   

Kansas City Southern takes Midwestern corn and auto parts to Mexico, and hauls finished cars, car parts and household appliances like washing machines and refrigerators back.

Danny Wood/KCUR 89-3

After his application for a commercial development was rejected by the city, former Lawrence mayor Bob Schumm, is trying a different approach: asking the Douglas County authorities to re-zone the plot of land on Vermont Street for agricultural use.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Over the last few years, the country’s tech giants — Google, Twitter and Facebook — have all been called out for their mostly white and mostly male staffs.

Diversity has become a top priority in Silicon Valley. 

Vewiser Dixon, an area entrepreneur, wants to help Kansas City avoid the image plaguing Silicon Valley — by building a tech space from the ground up, with diversity hardwired into its core.

City of Overland Park, Kansas

The Overland Park City Council has unanimously approved LANE4 Property Group’s final plan for redevelopment of the corner of 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue. The green light clears the way for the developer to apply for permits before starting demolition and site work.

The $80 million project is less ambitious than an earlier proposal worth several hundred million that called for a more urban style and help from city funds.  That plan included residential units, outdoor gathering areas and walking trails.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

After more than 100 years in Kansas City, Missouri, the American Royal will have a new home in Kansas City, Kansas. 

The American Royal Association announced Tuesday it has reached an agreement with the state of Kansas and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County to relocate to KCK next to the Village West shopping district. 

"We are excited to welcome our patrons to a facility we design and build exclusively for them," says Angie Stanland, American Royal board chairwoman. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Residents of South Kansas City heard updates on a variety of commercial projects at an economic development summit sponsored by the neighborhood alliance Saturday.

“It’s easy access,” said Ron Coker, a senior vice president at Burns & McDonnell, which just completed an expansion at 9450 Ward Parkway that will house 1,400 engineers, architects and construction specialists.

“If your business requires mobility, it’s a great, central location," Coker added, noting that much of the Burns & McDonnell workforce is spread across the city.

Andy Marso / KHI News

A working group appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback unveiled Tuesday a host of recommendations for changing the way Kansas officials estimate the amount of tax revenue the state will receive each year.

The recommendations include overhauling the group that makes the estimates and making a controversial change to the way monthly tax revenue is reported.

ivabalk / Pixabay / Public Domain

While some passengers may find the additional fees for carry-on bags to be an annoying part of traveling, a group of economists led by a University of Kansas professor found that these fees have actually had a positive impact on the flying experience as a whole.

Mazhar Arikan, who teaches at KU's School of Business, published the findings in this study

Dan Verbeck / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is near the top of a list of cities that are growing advanced industry.

That’s the latest from The Brookings Institution – and good news after a 2014 report found some troubling economic indicators here in the metro.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Amazon is building another huge facility in the Kansas City area, this one in Kansas City, Kansas, and it will bring more than 1,000 new jobs to an underutilized part of Wyandotte County.

Those jobs will start above minimum wage, come with benefits, and steep community college tuition discounts. They’ll be at a new facility south of I-70 near the Turner Diagonal, which is good news to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

Prof Cloverdale / Flickr--CC

The investment firms that bought Hostess brand snack cakes for $185 million three years ago are about to make bank on the recovering Kansas City-based company. The firms announced Tuesday that they’d reached a deal to sell a majority of the company for $725 million.

Augie Grasis
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Augie Grasis doesn’t shy away from the label “serial entrepreneur.”

“I guess it’s true from the standpoint that I’ve had a number of startups,” says Grasis, the founder of multiple technology companies in Kansas City. “It’s really what interests me the most and what turns me on the most about life and about commerce. It’s innovating and improving the way things are done.”

Grasis is best known for starting up Handmark, which made content apps for the Palm operating system before expanding to other platforms and being acquired by Sprint in 2013.

Unsplash / Pixabay

More Kansans are commuting to work than were in 2010.

That’s the latest from the Wichita State-based Center for Economic Development and Business Research, which on Thursday released an occasional report on Kansans’ commuting patterns.

“The choices about where we work are driven by the business cycle and what’s happening in that industry,” Pattie Bradley, senior research economist, says. “The choices we make about where to live are much more varied.”

Schools, crime, the cost and availability of housing, other amenities – all factor into the decisions people make.

GM Media / Wikimedia Commons

General Motors plans to invest $245 million in its Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas, to manufacture a new sports utility vehicle, the firm confirmed Tuesday.

The new SUV, which industry analysts believe will be most likely sold as a Cadillac, according to published reports, had originally been slated to be built at a GM plant in Orion Township, Michigan.

“In January, we informed our employees that we would move production of an all-new vehicle planned for Orion Assembly to Fairfax Assembly in Kansas,” Christopher M. Bonelli, a GM spokesman, said in a statement.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s economy hasn’t bounced back as quickly from the recession as similar U.S. cities.

Many metro-area businesses are unaware of global export opportunities in their own backyards.

Those findings and others from a 2014 report commissioned by the Mid-America Regional Council startled Kansas City’s business community into action.

LaunchKC

Entrepreneurs often say one of the hardest parts of getting a new business off the ground is raising enough capital to stay afloat in the initial lean years. 

Metro-based technology funder LaunchKC hopes to help bridge those early years for several startups with the latest version of a competition that's set to dole out $500,000 in funding this summer. The group began accepting applications for this year's startup grants competition Friday. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Community members and civic leaders gathered Saturday for the 9th annual Urban Summit at the Kansas City Police East Patrol Station to talk about how to revitalize the Prospect corridor and strengthen the city's urban core. 

Organizers say the summit's goal each year is to turn community frustration  into a plan of action by sharing ideas, initiatives and resources. Rev. Eric Williams opened the event by addressing some of those frustrations.

Shawnee Mission School District

Being in high-school can feel like a full-time job — eight hours a day in the classroom, plus schoolwork to do at home.

Throw in an after school job and a few extra curricular activities and you’ve got a very busy teen.

Kansas City-area high-schoolers Dawson Borcherding and Daniel Serres have taken that already busy schedule one step further.

Both started their own companies before they turned 17.

Young Leaf Landscaping

Callie England
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Callie England felt sick all the time. She went to doctors. She got her blood tested. By the time she was 21, she had taken more than 3,000 prescription pills and was at her wit’s end.

And then she changed what she ate.

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