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2019 Was a Big Year for EDC, Clay County

January 2020

Events like this Career Fair illustrated the EDC's wide-ranging efforts during 2019. Drawing high school students from throughout Greater Kansas City, the event was one of several initiatives involving the Northland Education and Business Alliance.

The year 2019 was good for Clay County and the EDC in many ways, including several that represent remarkable progress for the region, and those who live and work here. Here’s a brief overview of some highlights:


• A major update of the EDC’s Strategic Initiative beings with planning for community meetings, dialogue with business and community leaders, as well as trips to relevant developments.

• The EDC formalized a long-term effort to expand its services for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Although several services have been available previously, a new emphasis and additional resources are being focused on an often-overlooked group.

• Liberty Hospital announces a new partnership to bring advanced orthopedic techniques to the area. Under the partnership, Missouri University’s Health Care’s Missouri Orthopaedic Institute physicians will bring advanced techniques to the area.


• The Northland Education and Business Alliance (NEBA) sponsors the Northland Health Care Career Expo for area high school and middle school students. Held at the Metropolitan Community College Business and Technology campus, the expo is designed to engage high school and middle school students in health-related careers in the Northland.

• The EDC website adds a new and powerful data source for business owners wanting to locate or expand in Clay County. The site added Townfolio city data analytics with more than five million data points on over 38,000 municipalities.

• The long awaited construction of Metro North Crossing is under way with construction of a state-of-the-art driving range, T-Shotz.

• Cerner Corporation recently announces that Cliff Illig, company co-founder and vice chairman of the board of directors, has retired from Cerner to focus on outside interests.


• A dramatic variety of developments were highlights of the recent 2017 Clay County State of the Cities Luncheon. Major projects announced and updated include massive road improvements, regional retail/office developments, upscale restaurants and much more.


• A nearly $27-million project has started to build not one but two new bridges over I-35 on Highway 152 in western Liberty. Led by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), the project will be one of the Northland’s biggest road efforts this year.

• The second of three Clay County Strategic Planning meetings is held April 25 in the Yates-Gill College Union at William Jewell College. The focus was on education.

• Recently updated Census information shows Clay County to be the third larges jurisdiction in Greater Kansas City with a population of 246,366. Clay County is also one of the fastest growing.


• The Northland Joint Legislative Luncheon featured updates from Missouri State Legislators from Clay and Platte counties about the 2019 session in Jefferson City

• Nearly 100 area leaders, business owners and others interested in small business development turn out May 16 for the grand opening of iWerx Gladstone, the new collaborative workspace that follows the successful path of the original iWerx in North Kansas City.


• The third and final community meeting to update the EDC’s Strategic Initiative is held with the topic of entrepreneurism.

• Smithville High School received a top ranking by U.S. News & World Report on the publication’s recent "2019 Best High Schools" list. 


• The Clay County Economic Development Council continues to ramp up efforts helping small businesses. The assistance is often critical for small businesses at several stages of development, from initial planning to finance, sales and succession.

• The Clay County airport is growing in several directions. Officially the Midwest National Air Center, the facility between Liberty and Excelsior Springs broke ground July 11 on a new sanitary sewer system, allowing the airport to expand for future economic development. The airport is also the new home of Heartland Helicopters, a new flight school.


• North Kansas City’s food and entertainment district is developing into a regional destination. Located along Armour, Swift and Clay streets, the area includes everything from the Screenland Armour theatre to Chicken and Pickle, a restaurant/entertainment concept. In-between are Calibration Brewery and Hawg Jaw Que & Brew.

• The Sunderland Foundation provided a $5-million lead gift for construction of a new Center for Sports and Fitness at William Jewell College.

• Eldorado Resorts purchased Caesars Entertainment properties, which includes Harrah’s North Kansas City.


• Growing small businesses and creating an entrepreneur-friendly environment were key topics for the 52nd annual Look North Luncheon, Sept. 19 at Harrah’s North Kansas City. The event featured keynote speaker Dell L. Gines of the Federal Reserve Bank and EDC board member Tony Reinhart, who presented the 2019 update of the Clay County Strategic Plan.

• Interstate 435 opens three lanes in both directions as a major highway project nears completion. The project created a new diverging diamond interchange on 210 and widening I-435. 


• Downtown Gladstone received notable coverage with “Building A Downtown Almost From Scratch” in the Kansas City Business Journal. The article detailed how the four-block area between North Oak Trafficway and Gladstone City Hall has been rebuilt as a dynamic city center in just 15 years.


• North Kansas City is developing yet another hotspot with the Iron District, a cluster of businesses at East 16th Avenue and Iron Street in the heart of the city’s former industrial community. Created from colorful shipping containers, the area is a start-up friendly location for restaurants, retail and other small businesses.

• An affiliate of Google recently signed a deed to purchase approximately 80 acres in Clay County. Located in the Hunt Midwest Business Center, the property is proposed for the site of a $600 million Google data center.


• Over 200 people attend the EDC’s annual Keystone Breakfast to honor game-changing developments and learn details on the updated Strategic Initiative.

• The Ford Motor Company announced it will invest $400 million in the Kansas City Plant at Claycomo. That raises the total to more than $1.5 billion invested since efforts by the EDC and others helped keep the plant here when one of two production lines was transferred in 2013.

• North Kansas City’s One North development along I-35 continues to emerge from the site of a former grain elevator. Already home to Meierotto Jewelers headquarters, the area is now adding a $43 million luxury apartment complex to the 58-acre project.

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