Keystone Luncheon Celebrates Clay County Development
The 2022 Look North Award recipient Dave Horn was recognized at the Keystone Awards Luncheon Dec. 15. He was presented the honor by Clay County Economic Development Council Chair Julie Sola. Nearly 250 people attended the meeting, which also recognized Keystone Award recipients.

Nearly 250 members of the Clay County Economic Development Council and other Northland leaders honored 12 developments from Excelsior Springs to Smithville and North Kansas City to Kearney during the 2022 Keystone Awards at Harrah’s North Kansas City Dec. 15. 

The EDC presents the awards each year to recognize businesses that help grow economic development in Clay County and the Northland. This year’s honors were especially dramatic because they represent approximately $625 million in investment and over 6,000 new jobs.

“We really have a lot to celebrate in Clay County this year,” noted EDC Chair Julie Sola. 

Liberty may have boasted the largest collection of projects, with three massive projects that focus on the global supply chain. A new Amazon Sortation Center, the adjacent Liberty Commerce Center and the expansion of the Hallmark Distribution Center represent $600 million in investment and over 4,000 jobs.

Small businesses drew honors as well. Kearney seamstress Elizabeth “Liz” Scarpino was born with paralysis in her right arm, so she named her business Single-Handedly Liz Bridal Design Studio and Boutique. Her recent expansion earned her Keystone honors.

Other Keystone recipients included a high-tech marijuana growing facility in Smithville, streetscape efforts in both the Excelsior Springs and North Kansas City downtowns, and an expansion that doubled the size of Gladstone Foods.

The luncheon also recognized the EDC’s 2022 Look North Award recipient, Dave Horn. Horn’s vision led to the remarkable rebirth of the Antioch Crossing Shopping Center and the Metro North Crossing Shopping Center. These Clay County efforts brought renewed vigor to once-declining commercial areas and positive impact for the surrounding neighborhoods. 

Sola also presented the EDC’s annual report, which recognized significant 2022 developments ranging from a $95-million investment by Ford that brought 1,100 jobs to progress at area schools, hospitals, and cities. Sola noted that many of these projects have earned national recognition. “Although this list is long, I have not covered everything going on in Clay County,” she concluded. “While there’s a lot to celebrate, Clay County is just getting started.”

One concrete example was presented at the end of the meeting by Kansas City Council members Heather Hall, Kevin O’Neill, and Dan Fowler. The trio gave an update on the EDC’s 587 Project, a blueprint for world-class development at the largely empty I-435/Highway 152 interchange. “That’s going to be a gamechanger,” Hall said. 

Kirk Davis (background) and Dan Horn presented the Keystone Recognition Awards for the 2022 luncheon held Dec. 15 by the Clay County Economic Development Council. Nearly 250 people attended the event which recognizes developments that have helped boost Clay County, the Northland and Greater Kansas City.

The meeting included approval of a proposed slate of officers for the coming year: Chair Julie Sola, Chair-elect Kirk Davis, Secretary Bruce Cramer, Treasurer Dan Horn, Past Chair Advisor Tony Reinhart, Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte, Midwest Small Business Finance Affiliate Representative Lori Dugger, and Assistant Treasurer/Secretary Executive Director David Slater. 

Board of Director nominations were approved as well. The members and their affiliations are Dawn Wolff, Children’s Mercy Northland; Suzanne McCanles, Oakhill Day School; James Bowers, White Goss; Brad Hokanson, JE Dunn; Brad Filger, Continental Disk; John Miller, Sr., StorSafe and i-Werx; Jabbar Wesley, Spire; Brett Daffron, Commerce Bank; Dan Carr, CBC Real Estate Group; and Nick Ensign, Turner Construction Company.

A detailed list of the 2022 Keystone Awards recipients by city follows:

Excelsior Springs

Downtown Streetscape

Downtown Excelsior Springs has been transforming itself for some time. In the last 12 months, they have had more than 393,141 visitors to the area, an increase of more than 12 percent from fiscal year 20-21.

None of this is an accident. The Downtown Excelsior Partnership works diligently to make sure that there are significant events throughout the year to bring shoppers downtown, helping bring an increase of over 68 percent in reported retail taxable sales last year compared to when the district was formed.

A key component to this success is the investment from downtown property and business owners. In the past year, owners and developers have invested more than $1.5 million in the renovation of existing buildings. Several more projects are in the planning process.

The Elms Resort and Spa Renovation 

Parent company Midway Enterprises has invested $7 million in renovating every area of the Elms Resort and Spa. Rooms and public spaces have been refreshed with new paint, carpeting, new tile and fixtures. 

The 88 Restaurant underwent a transformation and was relaunched as Three Owls, which is a historical reference to the early days of the Elms. Both ballrooms underwent renovation, and the hotel added The Market, a grab and go shop, and Cafe Soterian, a new coffee and wine bar. 

In addition to all of these changes, the Elms made significant improvements to the spa, outdoor areas and pools. The Elms has recently experienced some of their best years, and the recent renovations make returning to the Elms a great choice for rest and relaxation – something that even Kansas City favorites like Patrick Mahomes enjoys.

The general contractor on this amazing project was Midway Enterprises, Inc., and the architect was OoMo Studio, LLC. 


Gladstone Fire Station No. 2 Expansion and Renovation

Residents of Gladstone are the biggest beneficiaries of a recent $4.5-million expansion and renovation of Fire Station No. 2 near 65th and North Prospect Ave.

With the growth and modernization of the fire department, this outdated facility could not accommodate the diverse personnel in the city’s ranks. The expansion doubles the footprint of the fire station and includes modern living quarters, bathroom/showering facilities, a large training and community room, storm shelter, equipment storage, living room and kitchen. The new fire station improves the neighborhood and better serves the community as a whole. A total of 40 jobs are now accommodated at the modern facility.

The general contractor for the work was Turner Construction, and the architect was Hoefer Welker.

Gladstone Foods Expansion

Gladstone Foods at 607 Northeast 69th Street, not far from Gladstone City Hall, recently expanded its taco manufacturing facility to more than double its previous capacity. That’s good news for several reasons.

This Gladstone location is the sole production facility for LaTiara taco shells, which are sold nationwide. Demand for these delicious taco shells continues to grow, and the expansion provides the company with the capacity necessary to satisfy both current demand and anticipated future growth.

The project helped retain 12 jobs and allows eight new positions. The work was financed by Commerce Bank.


Club Car Wash

Club Car Wash’s latest expansion is a new facility at 750 Watson Drive in Kearney. This project included construction of a new, 5,700-square-foot tunnel car wash with 20 vacuum bays. 

Club Car Wash was founded as a family-owned small business in 2006 as Tiger Express Wash. Their first location was located at 212 Nebraska Ave. in Columbia, Missouri.

The family business added two more locations over several years, and then in 2018 Club Car Wash built seven brand-new locations throughout Missouri. The next year they added locations in Missouri, as well as Kansas and Illinois.

This progress continued with locations throughout the three states. In 2020, Club Car Wash even added Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce as an investor and, later, a partnership with Rapid Express Car Wash. 

With over 100 locations, Club Car Wash today features an array of offerings, including premium memberships that provide on-demand service.

For this great Kearney project, Coil Construction was the general contractor, and the architect was Finkle + Williams. Cochran Engineering provided their services.

Single-Handedly Liz Bridal Design Studio and Boutique

Seamstress and owner Elizabeth “Liz” Scarpino was born with an injury that led to paralysis in her right arm. Everything she does in her shop is one-handed, which is how she came up with her business name: Single-Handedly Liz Bridal Design Studio and Boutique in Kearney.

Even when young, Liz was always creating something with her hand. She wanted to continue this artistic outlet and decided to make a career of it. In college she interned at Dornink, a bridal design studio where she fell in love with the world of bridal design. She received her bachelor’s degree in Apparel Merchandising and Design from Iowa State University in 2015. 

Striking out on her own, Liz opened her boutique in May 2020. Since then, she has been working full time as an alteration specialist and custom apparel designer.

Liz recently decided to relocate and invest in downtown Kearney for expansion of her studio and boutique. The project included facade improvements and a 1,690-square-foot building addition.

Oakwoods Contracting was the general contractor, and architectural services were provided by BNB Design.

Syler Commercial Building

Syler Construction Inc. is a family-owned and operated business specializing in commercial and residential general construction services. It was started by tradesmen and project managers who were willing to provide quality in a timely manner. The Syler team has constructed projects in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Tennessee.

Formerly based in Liberty, Syler this month is opening a new commercial building in Kearney that will not only act as the office for Syler Construction, Inc. but will also have three additional spaces for tenants to rent. Located at 255 W. 19th St., the new facility boasts 12,000 square feet and offers plenty of space for this growing Clay County company.

The general contractor on the project was Syler Construction while the design was provided by A3G Architects and Olsson Associates. Financing was provided by Clay County Savings.


Amazon Sortation Center

The retail giant Amazon opened its new sortation center in Liberty this summer. The 520,000-square-foot facility in the Liberty Commerce Center will be a Midwestern hub to help route packages throughout the United States.

Amazon’s sortation centers serve its “middle mile” operations, categorizing customer orders by final destination and consolidating them onto trucks for faster delivery. The company said it opened the new Liberty facility in response to customer demand and that it will serve as a Midwest hub. This will help Amazon optimize its capacity to meet customer delivery expectations with the peak holiday season and beyond.

The $80-million Liberty facility is one of the largest and newest facilities in terms of advanced technology and is only the third of its kind in the U.S. The site opened with 200 employees and is expected to hold more than 750. 

Hallmark Expansion

Hallmark is completing a new, 850,000-square-foot facility in Liberty. The project is an expansion of the current Liberty Distribution Center where the 111-year-old Kansas City-based company ships its products across North America. The total cost is $98.5 million.

The new buildings are less than one mile from the current distribution center and will bring several smaller Hallmark’s regional distribution facilities under a two-roof, co-located operation. This will create a more optimized and efficient distribution network and reduce Hallmark’s environmental impact by reducing transportation needs.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Hallmark’s Liberty Distribution Center, and this new expansion will grow the company’s footprint in Liberty by 50 percent. When the new distribution center opens in 2023, Hallmark anticipates more than 1,200 full-time employees working between the two facilities, plus approximately 150 seasonal part-time employees.

Cooperating on the project with Hallmark was the Opus Group, the City of Liberty and the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

Liberty Commerce Center

Even in today’s environment of mega-logistics projects, the Liberty Commerce Center by NorthPoint Development is dramatic.

The $400-million investment consists of eight buildings containing 3.6 million square feet of industrial space on 337 acres near South Liberty Parkway and Withers Road. With facilities ranging from 257,000 to 800,000 square feet, the project is strategically located just west of Ford Motor Company’s stamping facility and not far from the automaker’s Kansas City Assembly Plant. The entire area boasts excellent access to I-35 via South Liberty Parkway.

When complete, the businesses of the Liberty Commerce Center will create an estimated 3,500 new jobs, placing Liberty and Clay County at the forefront of Greater Kansas City’s logistics boom.

North Kansas City 

Downtown Streetscape

The North Kansas City Downtown corridor has always been known for its picturesque streetscape. Areas along Armour Road from Buchanan to Fayette and Swift Street from 18th Avenue to 21st Avenue, offer a beautiful tree canopy, landscaping and sidewalks. With its bustling shops and growing entertainment, this area is unique throughout Greater Kansas City. 

In recent years, many of these elements have needed renovation and improvement. Through public engagement, design elements for an updated, more accessible streetscape were selected by the community and approved by the city council.

The result is the Downtown Streetscape Project, the largest public investment in downtown North Kansas City in more than 25 years. The old, tired streetscape has been replaced with new pavers, concrete, irrigation, landscaping, street trees, site furnishings and new LED lighting. This major investment will serve the North Kansas City community for the next 30 years.

For this $4 million project, the general contractor was Mega KC, and Confluence served as the architect.


CPC of Missouri

Calyx Peak, Inc., a multi-state cannabis operator, recently announced the opening of its 82,500-square-foot cultivation and extraction facility in Smithville. In Missouri, Calyx Peak is operating as Local Cannabis Company. It is establishing a model that it has used successfully in other areas of the country.

The new, state-of-the-art Smithville location represents a $25-million investment. In addition, the company’s diverse team of medical, business, construction and cannabis industry experts are committed to challenging the conventional and often misunderstood thinking about this powerful plant.

Calyx Peak is a multi-state company in California, Missouri and Massachusetts. The company operates multiple dispensaries and over 200,000 square feet of legally licensed cultivation, extraction and distribution facilities in America. Calyx Peak continues to grow its brands and operations in the rapidly evolving cannabis market.

The general contractor for the new Smithville facility was Skybridge Construction, LLC, with architectural services provided by the Verve Design Studio and engineering by PKMR Engineers and Olsson. 

A major highlight of the Dec. 15 Keystone Awards Luncheon was recognition of Frances Sheffield. Frances has served as loan officer for EDC affiliate Midwest Small Business Finance for over 17 years and is retiring at the end of 2022. During the Keystone Luncheon, she received special recognition from MSBF board members Lori Duggar and Lisa McIntire. Before the meeting, Frances spoke with EDC Executive Director David Slater.
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