Keystone Luncheon Honors Clay County Developments
New EDC Chair Kirk Davis presented outgoing Chair Julie Sola with a plaque of appreciation for her years of leadership that spanned everything from COVID to Meta's arrival and the quest for Royal's stadium. The presentation and gavel exchange occurred Thursday during the EDC's Keystone Awards Luncheon.

Eighteen projects worth over $330 million and creating more than 1,500 jobs were honored Thursday, December 14th, at the Clay County Economic Development Council’s Keystone Awards Luncheon.

Find complete details and photos of this year’s Keystone Award winners here.

Held at Harrah’s North Kansas City, the event drew over 250 people who helped recognize public and private investments in the area’s economic development and quality of life. The developments ranged from massive logistics projects in Liberty to a new fitness center in Pleasant Valley. 

The event also saw EDC Chair Julie Sola pass the gavel to incoming Chair Kirk Davis. Sola is Harrah’s vice president and general manager while Davis is the former city manager of Gladstone. The event also included recognition of Tony Reinhart, government affairs director for Ford, whose leadership has been a major factor in EDC successes over the past decade. The EDC also elected a new slate of officers and members to the Board of Directors.

The heart of meeting involved presentation of the Keystone Awards to projects that have created jobs and invested capital through expansions, new equipment and/or technology. The honorees included efforts by international corporations and small businesses:

• Hunt Midwest Business Center Logistics IV in Kansas City is a new, Class A industrial building. The $30 million, 478,295-square-foot facility will be home to UPS Supply Chain Solutions and a JE Dunn Construction office. 

• Hunt Midwest Business Center, Logistics V in Kansas City is an approximately $20 million build-to-suit facility completed this year for St. Louis-based Community Wholesale Tire. One of the largest family owned and operated tire distributors in the Midwest, Wholesale Tire will fully occupy the 203,899-square-foot HMBC Logistics V. 

• Harmony Hill Animal Hospital in Kearney involves a $371,000 investment in the Shoppes at Kearney center. The full-service small animal veterinary clinic offers a wide range of services. 

• Starbucks in Kearney opened its 2,225-square-foot building with a drive-through in the Shoppes at Kearney center with a $9S0,000 investment.

• The Tractor Supply remodeling, also in Kearney, represented a nearly $800,000 investment. Tractor Supply is the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States and recently acquired 166 Orscheln Farm and Home stores, including the Kearney location. 

• Opus Development built four huge buildings within two adjacent developments in Liberty, totaling 1.8 million square feet. One of those buildings is an expansion of the nearby Hallmark Distribution Center. A fifth building is already on the drawing board.

• US Motor Works just completed its new fulfillment center in Liberty. The new, 167,000-square-foot facility is in the Heartland Meadows Industrial Park. The work saw a $19.2-million investment that brings 50 new jobs. 

• Pride Fitness opened in Pleasant Valley to provide a unique range of health and fitness services to the community. The $1.6 million effort brought 15 new jobs.

Award recipients also included the following public projects:

• The Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs just completed an extensive renovation, an investment of over $1.6 million, including a critical contribution from the Save America’s Treasures Grant. This ambitious project is the first step in restoring and enhancing the Hall, preserving its architectural grandeur and cultural significance. 

• The Gladstone Police Headquarters renovation and expansion is a $14-million investment funded by a half-cent general sales tax to improve police and fire facilities. The renovation includes a 20,000-square-foot addition that provides crucial space for the growth and development of the police department. Notable improvements include a new evidence room, offices, exercise facilities, jail cells and a 911 Communications Center for the co-location of dispatch centers with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the Liberty Police Department. 

• The new 19th Street Interchange with I-35 and Complete Street Project in Kearney cost $32 million and was 100 percent funded jointly by the City of Kearney and the Missouri Department of Transportation. Creating the city’s second freeway access, the project also adds bike lanes, shared-use paths, and sidewalks. 

• The new Kearney Pickleball & Skate Park Complex was a $2.1-million project on 4.16 acres is the largest municipally owned pickle ball complex in the metropolitan area. This major addition to Kearney’s park system brings new features for residents and visitors of nearly all ages.

• The Kearney School District completed nearly $5 million in improvement projects this year, including major remodeling at their Early Childhood Center, the high school, middle school, and junior high school. 

• The Armour Road Complete Street Project in North Kansas City was a $2-million investment that re-imagined this strategic corridor as a safe throughfare for all users, increasing accessibility and streetscaping along with fundamental improvements like curbs and gutters.

• Chapel Hill Elementary School in Gladstone saw a complete renovation and expansion in 2023 by the North Kansas City School District. A new wing, gymnasium, and façade, along with entry upgrades have turned this building into a state-of- the-art, 21st-century learning environment for the 640 students. Chapel Hill is one of three Blue Ribbon Schools in the district, an honor recognizing the top one percent of schools nationwide. 

• The Smithville Streetscape Phase II project continues that city’s beautification and improvements. This $1.17-million effort is on Main Street, from Commercial Street to Liberty Road and was funded completely by the City of Smithville. 

• The Main Street Trail in Smithville is a 1.3-mile multiuse trail connecting downtown Smithville to Smith’s Fork Park. It offers residents and visitors a unique connection between the community center and nearby Smithville Lake. The effort cost over $1.4 million.

• The final Keystone award is a special, Royal Award for the Oxbow Apartments in Downtown North Kansas City. The Oxbow is a best-in-class, 208-unit apartment project that represents a $54-million investment. The dramatic development is a significant addition to NKC’s growing entertainment area and overlooks what could be the future home of the Kansas City Royals.

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