The 2017 Business Retention & Expansion Survey was based on interviews with executives of 60 Clay County companies during 2015 and 2016. The one-on-one interviews were conducted by students of the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) then assessed using the Business Synchronist Information System. This is the 13th consecutive year that the EDC has utilized Synchronist, which helps identify expansion opportunities, companies at risk, as well as company and community problems.
Several results point to positive growth for local companies. Nearly half of the businesses report plans to expand in the next three years, with nearly 300 new jobs expected immediately. Economic recovery, attractive real estate and construction prices were major factors in the optimistic projections.
Most of the companies report heavy investments in new technology. New and advanced technologies are emerging for 58 percent of the companies. Eighteen percent of the respondents report that the county’s technology infrastructure is not adequate to meet their needs.
Now in its 13th year, the survey increasingly allows for comparisons. This report indicated that local companies could do more to increase international sales, which rose from three to five percent compared to earlier reviews.
The survey requested executives’ input regarding pending federal, state or local legislative changes. This year’s results showed an improvement of perception regarding anticipated adverse effects. Business leaders reported that with a new president and governor, issues are uncertain but still have a positive outlook.
The business executives continue to give Clay County high marks as a place to do business. Diverse economy, location, workforce, educational system, population growth, quality of life, and community pride continue to be identified as primary strengths, followed closely by stability of business ownership and management, low cost-of-living, cooperation, and a low crime rate.
The EDC and its affiliates utilize the results in a number of ways. A good example involves measuring employee recruitment needs, which range from sales to math skills, nurses, and welders. This data provides decision-makers critical insight for allocating resources and creating public policy by identifying growth companies, predicting companies at risk, and forecasting economic investment.The businesses surveyed in 2015-2016 covered the geographical spread of Clay County, representing a diversity of manufacturing, retail, and service businesses in Kansas City, Lawson, Liberty, Kearney, North Kansas City and Excelsior Springs. The companies ranged from a sole-proprietorship to employee bases of 2,000 to 4,000. Included in this survey are start-ups, emerging firms, and long-established businesses.