This year’s Look North Leadership Award recipient Tony Reinhart (right) spoke with 2002 recipient Pete Hall Friday at the annual Look North breakfast sponsored by the Clay County Economic Development Council.
Organized by the Clay County Economic Development Council, the event honored Ford executive and civic leader Tony Reinhart for years of diverse accomplishments that range from helping bring more than a billion dollars of investment to the area to launching a strategic plan that targets a new generation of accomplishment.
An update on the EDC’s Strategic Imitative was another highlight of the meeting, which included an audience of nearly 200 people at the Briarcliff in the Courtyard by Marriott. The event began with a review of recent developments and Clay County history by John Dillingham, who noted the 50-year-old EDC has grown from a small group in a boarded-up office to a volunteer-rich organization impacting the region.
“If that’s not validation for an organization, I don’t know what is,” Dillingham said.
EDC Chair-Elect Rebecca Hill next noted that Clay County now leads Metro Kansas City in new job growth and has the fourth-highest average wage in Missouri. Its diverse economy includes the largest Ford plant in the world by volume and Cerner, the fastest growing company in Missouri.
“As you can see, our county has much to be proud of,” Hill said. “And our county has been ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the best markets in the country for real estate investment. Please join me in celebrating the Clay County EDC’s 50th anniversary by recognizing that we continue to deliver on the goals of our strategic plan.”
EDC Executive Director Jim Hampton noted several EDC efforts seek to build on these successes, including a number of Competitive Task Forces that are looking to develop additional strengths and counter potential disruptions in areas from automobile manufacturing to health care, information technology, hospitality and entertainment.
“We need leaders of our industries to work together to make sure Clay County flourishes with changes of the future,” Hampton concluded.
Reinhart and his accomplishments were outlined by 2016 Look North Leadership recipients Deb Herman and Kirk Davis. Reinhart’s most public success may have been leading efforts to retain Ford’s Kansas City Plant. That triumph brought more than $1 billion in local investment and nearly 20,000 new workers for Ford and its suppliers.
He was also influential in the creation of the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) and has served on its board of directors since its inception. An active supporter of the Northland Education and Business Alliance, Reinhart has been a driving force in efforts to bring a satellite campus of Missouri University Science and Technology to the Innovation Center in Gladstone.
Reinhart serves on boards of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the World War I Museum, the Hawthorne Foundation and the Great Americans Project in Liberty. He is chair of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and each year participates in the Honor Flight program, which assists veterans traveling to Washington, D.C. for a day of activities to celebrate their service.
In accepting the award, Reinhart stressed the huge number of volunteers working for the EDC and the even larger number of organizations and individuals who cooperate. “That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “Working together to make the Northland great. I look forward to seeing all of you more and working to make the Northland even greater.”nored for more than 10 years of multi-faceted leadership in Clay County, Greater Kansas City and the Midwest.