KC Currents
12:43 pm
Mon October 4, 2010

Djanggi: A Cameroonian Approach to Collective Finance

Kansas City, MO – With the financial system still in turmoil, there's a very traditional alternative to loans that some Kansas Citians are using. Djanggi has its roots in the African country of Cameroon. There's similar practices in other parts of Africa and the Caribbean.

A djanggi group consists of people usually of the same sex, age and income level, who pool money together. Say there's a group of 10 people, and each member gives $100 to the pool every month. Then each month, one person takes home the $1000 pot.

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4:02 pm
Tue September 28, 2010

Missouri Gaming Commission Discusses Casino Proposals

St. Louis, MO – The Missouri Gaming Commission says its decision to award a new casino license will hinge on the result of an economic impact study. St. Louis Public radio's Adam Allington reports that the commission held hearings on two applications in St. Louis today (Tues).

Two of the four casino applications before the commission are located in the St. Louis region, both within three miles of each other, but under different governing authorities.

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9:59 am
Tue September 28, 2010

Missouri Treasurer Announces Bank Partnership

Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel

Kansas City, MO – It will soon be easier for smaller Missouri businesses to get low-interest loans. The state Treasurer has struck a deal with Commerce Bank that will generate up to $100 million of credit. KCUR's Frank Morris reports.

It's part of the state's Linked Deposit Program. Missouri deposits money into a bank; the bank, Commerce Bank in this case, pays the state less than the going rate for interest, and then loans the money to businesses at a discounted rate.

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KC Currents
3:11 pm
Mon September 27, 2010

New Alternative to Payday Loans

Kansas City, MO – Missouri has some of the loosest regulations in the country for the payday loan industry. The state is home to almost 1300 payday loan operations, compared to neighboring states that report 500 or fewer payday loan businesses.

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KC Currents
2:37 pm
Mon September 13, 2010

Architectural Battle Shows Different Visions for Plaza

Creative Commons photo via Bhanu Tadinada on Flickr.

Kansas City, MO – The Country Club Plaza has seen plenty of changes its nearly ninety years, but none of have sparked as much public passion as the recent announcement of new building plans by the law firm of Polsinelli Shughart. On August 19th, Plaza owner Highwoods Properties announced it would demolish the Balcony Building on the corner of 47th Street and Broadway to build an eight-story, glass office building.

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4:44 pm
Wed September 8, 2010

New Nuke Plant Starts Amid Protests

Shovels were ceremonial. Heavy earth moving equipment does the real work at Highway 150 site.(click to enlarge)
kcur photo by dan verbeck

Kansas City, MO – Heavy equipment has started moving earth for the nearly $700 Million nuclear weapon parts plant in south Kansas City. Ground was broken this morning near the former Richards-Gebauer Air Force Base at Highway 150 and Botts Road. The complex is owned by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Protestors walked and stood close to the job site where 25 hundred people are expected to work. Seven protestors were arrested and booked for disorderly conduct, accused of walking into the path of a VIP bus.

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7:33 am
Fri August 27, 2010

Judge to Rule on Missouri's Sexually Oriented Business Law

Jefferson City, MO – A Cole County judge may decide Friday (August 27) whether a new law that places restrictions on sexually-oriented businesses in Missouri can take effect Saturday as planned.

The new restrictions include a ban on full nudity and alcohol sales at strip clubs, limit where new clubs and adult video stores can locate, and require them to close at midnight.

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7:24 am
Thu August 26, 2010

Plaza Tower Survives in New Design

Revised architectural rendering presented by Polsinelli Shugart law firm.

Kansas City, MO – The historic Plaza "Balcony Building" at 47th and Broadway survives in a new design presented at this afternoon's city council business session. Spencer Thompson of the Polsinelli-Shughart law firm which is to occupy the building explained the new plan.

Thompson said the final design will incorporate as much of the original architecture and Plaza streetscape as possible, and definitely will include the Spanish-style, red-tile roofed tower.

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9:07 am
Tue August 24, 2010

Local Bankers Tell Congressional Subcommittee Financial Reform Will Cost Them

Congressman Dennis Moore studying during his hearing \"Too Big Has Failed: Learning from Midwest Banks and Credit Unions.\"
Laura Ziegler

Johnson County, Kansas – Local bankers and credit union officers told a Financial Services Subcommittee hearing in Johnson County yesterday that the recent financial reform bill would place local banks at a competitive disadvantage.

David and Mariner Kemper, cousins, and CEO of Commerce Bank and UMB respectively, said their institutions have survived , and thrived, because they stuck to conservative, traditional banking practices. They both said they were community-based and emphasized relationships with their customers.

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5:11 pm
Fri August 13, 2010

KC Foreclosures Leap

photo by dan verbeck

Kansas City, MO – Home foreclosures in the Kansas City metro region rose 11 percent from June to July. That's an additional 19 hundred homes, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.

Nationwide, foreclosures rose 4 percent in July, far fewer than the KC metro jump.

Jackson County had the most with one in every 281 houses, followed by Wyandotte County, one in every 294 homes. Johnson was lowest. it saw 283 foreclosure filings. The Business Journal reports that amounted to one in every 767 homes.

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9:59 am
Wed August 11, 2010

Coal Plant Controversy Rekindles

Salina, KS – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is once again on the hot seat. Sunflower Electric Power Corporation is seeking a permit for construction of a coal-fired power plant near the southwest Kansas town of Holcomb. The proposal, in one form or another, has been stirring up debate since 2006. Plans for the plant have been radically scaled back. But as Bryan Thompson reports, the issue still seems to pit environmental concerns against economic growth.


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7:40 am
Fri August 6, 2010

Nixon Outlines Rural High Speed Broadband Expansion

Kansas City, MO – Governor Jay Nixon outlined a $49 million federal award yesterday to expand rural high speed broadband access.

The state of Missouri is partnering with Big River Telephone Co., Finally Broadband, and Socket Telecom to bring the last mile of fiber optic line to rural homes, businesses, and hospitals.

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10:00 am
Mon August 2, 2010

Power Plant Draws Ire, Support

The passion for and against a coal fired power plant in western Kansas has been evident, as the Kansas Department of Health and Environment held the first in a series of public hearings. The event was in Johnson County where some 400 people were ready to give comments.

It's an ongoing fight extending over years and gaining interest, as noted by Christi Pankratz of KDHE.

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12:14 pm
Fri July 30, 2010

Feds To Truckers: Time For A Gut Check

Truckers are more likely than average Americans to be overweight, which can lead to health problems including sleep apnea, which disrupts sleep and causes fatigue, contributing to thousands of crashes a year. No one knows for sure because the government has never required that drivers be tested.

'I've Gained 100 Pounds'

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5:05 pm
Mon July 26, 2010

KCI: Getting There is Hardest Part

Terminal B construction as drivers encounter it.
photos by Kathleen Hefner, KC Aviation Dept.(click to enlarge)

Frustrations some KCI air travelers found over the weekend will recur next Saturday and Sunday. Commercial flyers using "B" terminal are being told to leave home early and bring patience.

The aviation department decided to cram roadwork around terminal B into two weekends rather than draw out the inconveniences. It affects those using Southwest and Delta.

At times yesterday and last Saturday there was no direct curb access for Delta customers. People had to be dropped off and picked up "upstream" from construction.

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2:19 am
Thu July 15, 2010

Council Members Comment on P & L District Subsidy

The crowd listens to a band Wednesday night at the Power and Light District.
Photo courtesy of KMBC, TV-9. Click to enlarge.

Kansas City, MO – City Manager Troy Schulte's comments to the Kansas City Star that the city will have to pay millions of dollars for up to ten years to subsidize Power and Light District TIFs prompted responses from several Kansas City council members Wednesday.

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1:14 am
Thu July 15, 2010

Tax Breaks on the Table, Missouri Waits on Ford

Workers celebrate auto industry tax breaks.
Photo: Frank Morris

Kansas City, MO – "It's a great day for all working people in the state of Missouri!" said Jim Wells, regional director for the Autoworkers union reflecting a pretty upbeat mood across the street from the Claycomo plant. Workers and politicians celebrated as governor Nixon signed the measure granting auto makers, and their suppliers up to 15 million dollars a year in tax breaks, for 10 years if they invest here.

"We are committed to making sure that Missouri is an automotive (manufacturing) state for years to come", said Nixon.

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5:03 pm
Fri July 9, 2010

Air Tickets Too Cheap To Be Legit

Air ticket, i.d. theft scam ranged across the U.S. and Canada.
photo by dan verbeck

Kansas City, MO – A laptop stolen five years ago in Overland Park has led to federal charges of a custom, stolen-to-order airline ticket scam that ranged through 28 states and Canada. Secret indictments were opened today describing thousands of identity thefts.

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4:56 pm
Thu July 8, 2010

President Obama: Thank You Smith Electric Vehicles

Kansas City, Missouri – President Obama came to Kansas City to thank workers and executives of Smith Electric Vehicles for helping stimulate the economy with the production of electric trucks.

Smith Electric has received $32 million in stimulus funds in the form of grants from the Department of Energy.

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KCMO City Hall
3:07 am
Thu June 10, 2010

Committee Approves Option On Convention Hotel Site

Kansas City, Mo. – A city council committee is recommending that the city council allocate a quarter of a million dollars on an option to buy the block that contains the Power and Light building for a downtown convention hotel.

The planning and zoning committee is sending the full council resolutions to continue studying the possibility of a 1,000 room hotel and to pay New York's Gailord Enterprises $250,000 to take the property off the market for the year or so that study is expected to take.

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5:45 pm
Wed May 19, 2010

The Country's Largest Tax Preparer Shrinks

Kansas City, Mo. – Low-income working people tend to qualify for tax refunds, to get their taxes done early and to buy lucrative "refund anticipation loans". Until recently, H&R Block expanded aggressively to grab that business.

But Block's tax preparation work dove 5 percent this year. CEO Russ Smyth says the mounting popularity of tax preparation software cuts into their business, but that double digit unemployment among the working poor cuts deeper.

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9:18 am
Wed April 21, 2010

GM Spends Big In KCK And Pays Off Government Loan

Kansas City, Mo. – Last summer General Motors was clinging to life, bankrupt, propped up only by a massive infusion of government cash. Wednesday, though, money was flowing the other way. The company announced that it's sinking a lot of cash into its Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas. It also trumped the fact that it has repaid a massive federal government loan, way early. Those two announcements in Kansas City lead to some rare, bi-partisan praise for the auto industry relief plan.

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KC Currents
12:59 pm
Mon April 12, 2010

UMKC Physicist Uses Hubble Images To Study Galaxies

Kansas City, Mo. – Galaxies, black holes and supernova: for most of us, they are the mysteries of our universe. For UMKC physics professor Daniel McIntosh, it's his life's work. He is part of a team of over 100 scientists, led by University of California scientist Sandra Faber, who will be using the newest and most advanced version of the Hubble Space Telescope to survey the heavens during a three year period.

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9:03 pm
Wed March 31, 2010

Electric Vehicle Company Hopes To Expand With DOE Dollars

Kansas City, Mo. – The Department of Energy has awarded the Smith Electric Vehicle Company in Kansas City another significant grant to continue research and development of electric delivery trucks.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill got a tour of the Smith Electric Plant yesterday from executives and workers, after announcing DOE would add $22 million to the $10 million it had already given Smith.

The company manufactures delivery trucks, with electric engines.

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12:15 pm
Wed March 10, 2010

Researchers Say Collaboration Is Key To Success In Research And Marketplace

Kansas City , Mo. – Scientists and business people are sharing research among institutions and across disciplines. That was the message at this weeks Life Sciences Summit sponsored by the University of Missouri campuses.

Collaborating is already happening . Working together has produced some tremendous breakthroughs in animal and human health.

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5:21 pm
Mon March 8, 2010

Legal Assault On Financial Fear, Greed

Landon Rowland of Local Investment Commission joins attack on bogus fixers of foreclosures.
photo by Dan Verbeck

Kansas City, Mo. – The Attorneys General from Missouri and Kansas are teaming with the Federal Trade Commission to counter growing confidence games used against holders of foreclosed mortgages.

It's the work of sharks in the quasi financial world. Kansas had no complaints about companies offering to fix foreclosures---and didn't-- in year 20007. Attorney General Steven Six counts it at 171 last year and into the hundreds this year.

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6:52 pm
Thu February 18, 2010

Bannister Complex Air Safe, More Tests to Come

Behind this wall at the soon-to-be retired Bannister Federal Complex is a defense plant that used toxic solvents.
File photo.

Kansas City , Mo. – The old Bannister Federal Complex passed round one of EPA testing for hazardous pollution this week, but there are more tests to follow.

The environmental agency remained silent until the results were in. Volatile solvents, some of them carcinogens, have left no traces at the old Honeywell plant that pose a health hazard from breathing the air inside the buildings.

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5:30 pm
Thu February 18, 2010

Where The Living Is Awful, The Flying Is Great

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City got one high five and one gutter rating today. Forbes magazine rates it 13th among the 20 worst cities to live. But the airport is wonderful.

Forbes cites high crime and taxes, but says terrible sports teams really drag down the city. Now, the airport is a different story. It is rated best in the country among medium size cities.

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12:09 pm
Sun February 14, 2010

Health Care Training Opportunities Abound: Full Employment Council Gets $5 Million Stimulus Grant

Kansas City, Mo. – The Full Employment Council in Kansas City has been awarded $5 million in stimulus money for a new program to prepare some 1,500 people for jobs in the fields of long-term care and allied health.

During a conference call where U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis made the announcement on Friday, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver said the award is great news for this area, especially as the population ages and the need for health care rises.

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5:33 pm
Tue February 2, 2010

Worse Than The Numbers Show

Kansas City, Mo. – Some of the nation's top economics bloggers have a breathtakingly pessimistic outlook. The findings come from the respected Kauffman Foundation on February 2, 2010.

Economic growth numbers from the last quarter of 2009 may look promising but they don't impress many of 200 economics devotees surveyed by The Kauffman group. Tim Kane is senior fellow with the foundation and engineered the first-of-its-kind study for the organization.

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