News about what is happening in Blue Springs, MO

Development group is working well

clock September 23, 2009 16:43 by author Jeff Quibell

Jeff2007small During my time in office I had the pleasure of corresponding with thousands of Blue Springs residents regarding city business. On Saturday’s Examiner opinion page, one of those residents raised some good points that should be considered when talking about the Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation.

It is true. I have a bias in favor of the Blue Springs EDC. It is also true that I am one of the investing partners in the Blue Springs EDC. When the public/private partnership of the Blue Springs EDC was formed, the City Council continued the $300,000 annual budget allocation that had previously funded the city’s Economic Development Department as the public side of the venture.

The city then solicited businesses and private individuals to partner in the formation of the EDC, to be advocates for growth in Blue Springs. Those investing partners may be found at http://bit.ly/bsedcmem

From 2005 through 2011, Wanda and I have paid and/or committed $15,000 of our own personal funds through our company, CPros. As local IT professionals and custom software developers, we believe in giving back, and this is just one of the ways we choose to support our community.

Each of you living in Blue Springs is committed by the City Council to an annual contribution of approximately $5.45 (or a total of $32.70 over six years) through the taxes that you pay to the city each year.

So what is the return on the investment that Mr. Comerford is referring to in his letter, which he believes will benefit me financially? That return is economic growth for our city. And the great thing about this return is that each Blue Springs resident receives exactly the same return on your investment as I do.

Let’s talk about what that means to each of us. Is that investment worth having a new Target store in town? Is it worth getting a shopping center with Gap Outlet, Staples, Petco, Famous Footwear, Gordman’s, Maurices, Olive Garden, Chipotle, Gamestop, Arby’s, Sally Beauty Target, Lowes and Books-A-Million? Is it worth seeing three tired old strip malls totally refurbished? Is it worth capturing a science and technology park that will bring thousands of 21st-century, high-paying, quality jobs to our city and position Blue Springs as an international research destination?

I believe my investment is justified, and I’m proud to support the EDC in its efforts to provide quality growth for Blue Springs. Each one of you can communicate your belief to your councilmen. There is much more work to do, but each of you should feel confident that our EDC is effectively and professionally promoting our city and bringing new retail and employment opportunities to Blue Springs!

The Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation is non-profit, and its investing partners receive no direct financial benefit.


Why Block Economic Development?

clock September 18, 2009 09:08 by author Jeff Quibell

DSC04405 As citizens, it is our responsibility and privilege to elect our representatives. We choose those that we believe will most accurately represent our beliefs and ideals, and those who will look out for our best interest. Once elected, we have a right to expect our leaders to speak to the issues that come before them in a straightforward manner, without attempting to twist or misconstrue facts. Our most recent Blue Springs city council meeting is an unfortunate example of how issues and details can be manipulated in an attempt to inaccurately spin the facts.

Let’s look first at the discussion coming from the District 3 Councilmen. The city’s check registers are a typical item on the consent agenda. Councilman Solon requested this item be removed from the consent agenda for further discussion. Her concern, and apparently Councilman Fowler’s as well, centered on reimbursements for business lunches and dinners, and the policy of how those reimbursements should be handled. Most successful organizations and businesses require some level of business conducted outside of the office, or in this case, city hall. Perhaps her concerns are indicative of the type of business Councilman Solon does, but for most of us in business, meeting with clients or prospective clients over lunch or dinner is a common practice. It is entirely appropriate that staff members should be reimbursed for doing their job at our request. Of course, proper documentation and procedures must be followed. We are fortunate to have a talented and dedicated financial department who oversees expenditures.

As I watched the remainder of last week’s meeting a common, reoccurring theme began to appear, again with the same two councilmen. Councilman Solon advocated reducing the funding to the Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation by 10% or $30,000, suggesting that the EDC budget should be cut because of the current hard economic times. However, I recall this same suggestion from her several years ago before these hard times. What is the true motivation here? Why are the District 3 representatives so opposed to economic development?

These recommendations appear to be attempts to slow economic development in Blue Springs. The frequent no votes coming from our District 3 councilmen often focus on economic development issues. While the developments occurring in various parts of our city are designed to increase revenue and help keep our taxes low over the long term, these votes seem designed to impede those efforts and keep our citizens spending their tax dollars in other municipalities. Is this truly the will of the residents in District 3?

I encourage people to speak their mind, and believe that a spirited, open discussion will bring a better end result for all. Contact your councilmen and speak your mind. You can watch the meeting at http://bit.ly/bscc20090908.


City needs to address sign issue

clock September 9, 2009 17:23 by author Jeff Quibell

DSC04409 As you drive through Blue Springs, there continue to be signs of development. The first phase of Adams Dairy Landing is preparing to open Oct. 11. The McDonald’s that has stood on Missouri 7 for more than 36 years has been demolished and will be rebuilt. The shopping center on Woods Chapel is getting a long needed facelift. The first tenant is getting ready to open in the Southridge Shopping Center. Virtually every part of our city is seeing some kind of development.

Still, much work remains to be done to keep our city moving forward. In a work session last week, the City Council began considering changes to our sign code. This important part of our development code is involved in managing how businesses in our city make us aware they are here and open for business.

During my time in office I heard from many business owners who felt our sign code is too restrictive. If you watch our Planning Commission meetings you will see that time and time again business owners run into obstacles that keep them from getting the signs they want and need to advertise.

The codes are strict to help improve the appearance of our business corridors. Yet if they are too strict, businesses can’t get the signs they need. Parkside Books, behind Einstein Bros. on M-7, is a prime example. Our codes keep them from placing a sign near the highway to let customers know they are there. They have been working with the city for several years to find a way to make their business more visible to no avail.

McDonald’s on M-7 had to limit the length of time for the reconstruction of its store to keep its signature golden arches, which don’t meet our current sign code requirements. Panera Bread had to get special permission for its highway-facing signage because it didn’t meet the requirements of our current sign code. These are just a few examples.

My encouragement to our mayor and council is to listen to the needs of our existing and new businesses and find creative ways to make our city more inviting to the businesses we want and need. I am confident the sign code can be modified to accommodate those needs while keeping our business districts attractive. Be sure to speak with your councilmen and give them your guidance on this important issue for our city!


Tenants for Adams Dairy Landing

clock September 3, 2009 11:26 by author Jeff Quibell

Grand Canyon Jeff Upon my return from vacationing at the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, I learned that Gap Outlet, Staples, Petco, Famous Footwear, Gordman’s, Maurices, Olive Garden, Chipotle,
Gamestop, Arby’s and Sally Beauty will join Target, Lowes and Books-A-Million at Adams Dairy Landing in Blue Springs. These are just a few of the tenants that will open at the shopping center.

The 550,000 square-foot shopping center is located at the southeast corner of I-70 and
Adams Dairy Parkway in Blue Springs, Missouri. Phase I of the project will open on October 11, 2009 and will include Target, Sally Beauty, Gamestop, Maurices, Gap Outlet and Chipotle. Phase II will open in Spring 2010 and will include Lowes, Gordman’s, Petco, Books-A-Million, Staples, Famous Footwear, Olive Garden and Arby’s.

It is exciting to see how much our city has advanced over the last four years and to think about what remains to be achieved.  Please join me in thanking RED Development for bringing this quality development to our city!


Changes coming to key intersection

clock September 3, 2009 08:12 by author Jeff Quibell

JeffQ Photo As much as I enjoy writing these articles, at times life gets in the way. Recently, Wanda and I traveled to Las Vegas to visit our daughter Crystal, stopping along the way to see the Grand Canyon. We returned home and have helped care for my father following his quadruple bypass surgery at St Luke’s Hospital last week. Thank you for the support and prayers from so many of our friends on his behalf. I was also touched knowing that many of you missed this column while we were gone.

I attended the Blue Springs City Council work session Monday evening. These meetings are designed for the council to discuss issues that are under consideration and for future plans and concerns to be brought up for evaluation. The meetings are open to the public, but not yet televised. I strongly encourage Mayor Ross and the council to begin televising these meetings. It would be another step toward transparency for our local government!

Many of you will be happy to hear that the council is working on the details of the Woods Chapel Road improvements that you approved in 2008.

Some of the items included in this plan are: placing signals at the intersection of Briarwood and Castle Drive; sidewalks and bike lanes as the roadway is improved; expansion of the Valley View Drive intersection; and the South Outer Road relocated further south to allow better traffic flow onto Woods Chapel and to the surrounding businesses.

Most exciting will be the conversion of the I-70 Interchange to a Diverging Diamond Interchange, the 2nd of this design in the United States. This new concept in interchange layout will move morning and afternoon traffic efficiently on and off of I-70 for traffic volumes projected as far into the future as 2030. An example of this type of interchange is up and running in Springfield at the intersection of MO-13 and I-44 http://tinyurl.com/ddinterchange.

We all recognize that the wheels of government often turn slowly. But, when progress is encouraged and allowed to develop, good things happen. The plans for these improvements should be complete by early 2010, with bids going out by the end of 2010. Construction will begin in 2011 with anticipated completion by 2013. My compliments to Mayor Ross and the City Council for continuing to move this important project forward!

One final thought on Woods Chapel. Let’s not forget to patronize the businesses along this corridor as road construction and necessary improvements may make it more difficult to access them in the future. While this will be a short term inconvenience, the long term benefits will allow this north-south artery to be a more welcoming Western gateway to our city.


Business Owner Treated Poorly

clock August 13, 2009 19:04 by author Jeff Quibell

507_DSC_5450 “Why is the city of Blue Springs so difficult to work with?”

During my time on the City Council, that question came up repeatedly. While there are many answers, an example was seen at the Aug. 3 council meeting.

Over the past several years we have seen significant progress in Blue Springs. Coronado Place, Copperleaf Village, the Mall at Fall Creek and Parker Center are all projects that have addressed blighted areas. Despite opposition from our District 3 council members, each of these projects has improved the visual landscape of our community and enhanced quality of life for our citizens.

One project presented to the council in 2006 was the Village Gardens redevelopment. It had several benefits for our city. It eliminated an aging building, and a beautiful new Village Gardens building was constructed. The old lot was cleaned up and marketing began, with the intention of a new restaurant for the corner. The total project will generate additional revenue for our taxing entities, including the school district, which is the primary reason it supported the project in 2006.

Jump now to the present, and last week’s council meeting. Village Gardens asked for a two-year extension of the deadline of when tax abatement for the corner lot must be activated. The original contract with the city allowed for an extension for reasons beyond the owner’s control. Certainly the current economic downturn constituted reasons beyond the owner’s control. When Council Member Sheila Solon said “... it’s a very bad contract that didn’t serve the citizens,” I have to admit I had a hard time understanding her interpretation.

I find it hard to imagine anyone opposing the elimination of the blight at this location in 2006. Monday evening, Council Members Fowler and Solon attempted to justify that opposition. In my opinion, their poor treatment of a local business owner – one who has invested his own funds in this project – was unnecessary but typical. It illuminates the issue expressed by many business owners and developers of their concern about choosing to do business in our city. As I attended various Chamber of Commerce events last week, the council meeting was a frequent topic of conversation.

On the bright side, Kingsridge Center on Woods Chapel is receiving a facelift. This area is long overdue for attention and redevelopment, and it’s encouraging to see owners investing in their property. As our council members continue to disagree on the best direction for our city, I would encourage you to make your voice heard. Whether you agree or disagree with their statements and actions, let them know your thoughts. And remember, the next City Council election is next April.


Blue Springs' Missouri Innovation Park Continues to Progress

clock July 21, 2009 09:30 by author Jeff Quibell

- PRESS RELEASE - 

Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation

Blue Springs, MO- July 9, 2009-

For more information, contact:

Brien Starner, President

Blue Springs EDC

816-228-0209

bstarner@bluespringsedc.com

Blue Spring Economic Development Corporation & Blue Springs Growth Initiative Announce the Hiring of Brad Scott

Blue Springs - Bill Wrisinger, Chairman of the Blue Springs Growth Initiative (BSGI), announced today the hiring of Brad Scott to assist with Strategic Planning and Public Affairs.  BSGI is a not-for-profit organization charged with overseeing the development of the Missouri Innovation Park at Blue Springs.   The Park's initial anchor will be the Mizzou Center will house and foster the growth of research and technology based 21st Century jobs for the Greater Kansas City region.
"Brad has a great deal of experience in advancing highly complex and multifaceted projects.  This is very much a public\private endeavor and we are appreciative of his help."   Wrisinger added, "It doesn't hurt that he graduated from both Blue Springs High School and the University of Missouri."

"Mayor Carson Ross, the City Council and Brien Starner have done outstanding work in guiding the MIP through critical stages, but we owe it to the community to build a team to support their efforts.  Frankly, it wasn't a very hard sell to get Brad on board; he loves Blue Springs and the University of Missouri and this project is right in his wheelhouse."  Wrisinger added.

Brien Starner, President of the Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation said, "I knew Brad from my previous position and marveled at the things he accomplished as the Regional Administrator for the General Services Administration.   It was clear to me that he was committed to advancing economic opportunities in the Kansas City area.  He deals with people and issues head-on and believes the public has a right to know about every facet of a project's progress.  We need that kind of commitment and clarity of focus."

Brad Scott served as the former Regional Administrator for the General Services Administration covering a four-state area from Kansas City; the federal government's landlord.  Under his leadership the IRS Service Center and the Cape Girardeau Courthouse were completed.  He conveyed the Old Post Office and Customs House in St. Louis to the State for redevelopment, and he kicked off the Jefferson City Courthouse, the National Nuclear Security Administration project (Honeywell) and the downtown GSA\FEMA building.

Scott said, "I am thrilled to be working on behalf of my hometown and my University.  Mayor Ross and the City Council have propelled the community forward with a very progressive vision.  I hope to contribute to making that vision a reality.   That's what I have done in the past and I hope to do it again."

Scott added, "Blue Springs has assembled the land, a plan and the foundation of a great team.  The community and the leadership have provided support and our partners at Mizzou are very excited about the opportunity.  Moreover, this project continues building the momentum within the Kansas City region in securing its place in the world market for Life Science, Animal Health, Alternative Energy and Nutrition."

###

Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation

1600 NE Coronado Drive

Blue Springs, MO  64014

www.ThinkBlueSprings.com


Pay it forward Blue Springs (Updated)

clock July 9, 2009 10:02 by author Jeff Quibell

On Monday, a "Pay it Forward" chain began at the Steamin' Bean in Blue Springs.  I dropped by to purchase a Latte this morning (July 9, 2009) and found myself to be the 392nd recipient since Monday in an unbroken chain of "Paying it forward".  Go to http://www.aboutbluesprings.com/post/2009/07/06/Pay-it-forward-Blue-Springs!.aspx to see the original article about what is happening in Blue Springs.


Help available for small businesses

clock July 8, 2009 20:00 by author Jeff Quibell

DSC04409 While serving on the Blue Springs City Council, I always made it a point to read all materials, resolutions, and ordinances, before deciding whether or not to support a particular issue.

When our elected leaders in Washington passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, I wanted to fully understand it and the opportunity it presented. These are challenging economic times, and many people are looking for help with their jobs and their businesses.

I read through the new law to see if there were options that might apply to my business (CPros, a custom software and IT Services company). Following further reading, it occurred to me that some of what I learned might be of interest to our local business owners and citizens interested in how money from the recovery act is being used locally.

One section of the law titled Business Stabilization Program caught my interest. It provides for zero-interest loans to businesses challenged by the economic downturn. This program allows a small business to take out a zero-interest, five-year American Recovery Capital loan from the Small Business Administration. The intent is to allow a business to divert newly available cash flow toward retaining or creating new jobs.

Local businesses can apply for an ARC Loan to retain and create jobs in the Blue Springs job market, thereby strengthening the local economy. In the case of CPros, it expands our opportunity to help other area businesses maintain their computer networks and provide excellent service to their customers, which will enable them to expand their business and participate in the economic recovery.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 contains many other provisions that may be of interest to local small-business owners.  There are opportunities through the SBA 7(a) and 504 loan programs to start or expand a business. Assistance is available to help purchase new facilities.

This is just a sampling of the opportunities to help our community’s small business owners improve the local economy and provide more opportunities for employment. If you are a small-business owner who has been affected by current economic conditions I would encourage you to contact your SBA lender and look into one of these SBA programs. You can find more information on the SBA website at http://www.sba.gov/recovery/index.html.


Pay it forward Blue Springs!

clock July 6, 2009 19:04 by author Jeff Quibell

This morning a customer walked into the Steamin' Bean on north seven highway and said they wanted to pay for the next customer's order.  When asked what they wanted the next customer to be told, they simply replied that they should find an opportunity to pay it forward.  By lunch time over twenty customers had chosen to pay the kindness forward and this evening the generosity continues.  Some of the customer have been so generous that excess money is accumulating and owner Garin Bledsoe is looking to expand the idea beyond his coffee shop.  He believes that this is an opportunity for us all to help our neighbors and other local businesses improve our economy.  If you would like to participate in this local version of Pay it Forward simply call the Steamin' Bean at 220-2326.  Ask for Garin or Michelle and they will be happy to help you.

The Steamin' Bean is located at 1875 NW 7 Hwy in Blue Springs Missouri.