The State of the Clay County EDC

The State of the Clay County EDC by Julie Sola, EDC Outgoing Chair (The following comments were made by EDC outgoing chair Julie Sola at the Keystone Awards Luncheon)

I have had the honor of being the Board Chair for the EDC for the past two years. It has not been an easy road to navigate coming out of a pandemic. The leaders in this room that were busy running businesses, government agencies and other organizations had to pivot from traditional ways of conducting business to operating in a new era of uncertainty. 

Clay County EDC was not immune to these challenges. We knew we needed to add value to those businesses, cities and our valued members who invested their support into our organization. It is not easy to articulate the value that the EDC provides to our county. There is not a definitive scorecard for the efforts and impact the EDC has when we bring people together to create a positive impact through economic development. Sometimes we get a base hit, other times we strike out, but one thing is for certain – your EDC will always step up to the plate.

Earlier this year, the Kansas City Royals narrowed their focus to two locations for a new stadium in the metro. One location is downtown in the East Village, and the other location is right down the street in North Kansas City. Although the team has not announced their decision on the location, your EDC has partnered with the city of NKC and other entities to bring together people and information to help the team in making their decision. The EDC has been available to assist in providing tours from the rooftop of the Oxbow to show interested parties the potential location. Much like Taylor Swift put Travis Kelce on the map, now we can say that North Kansas City is on the map and in the game! All jokes aside, it is an exciting time to be in Clay County, and your EDC will continue to be a cooperative partner while we eagerly anticipate the Royals’ decision. 

EDC Efforts

Another effort that is moving along is the 587 Project. There are still skeptics, but your EDC continues to push ahead. The Olsson Plan for the 587 is being adopted by Kansas City, a TIF plan is being considered, and there is interest by a developer in the northeast quadrant. When the plan comes to fruition, Northlanders will have new dining and entertainment options, office spaces to consider, housing options to explore and green spaces that will make you proud. We will finally be able to see our kids graduate in our backyard instead of crossing a river or the state line. 

Clay County EDC supports our community in other ways and demonstrated that earlier this year. The Clay County EDC Board of Directors voted unanimously to stand with our hospitals, doctors, community leaders and local politicians to oppose a request to build a three-bed emergency care hospital in Clay County. Your EDC Executive Director and numerous healthcare professionals headed to Jefferson City for a show of forces in opposition to the certificate of need for the facility. The Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee denied the certificate of need on Tuesday, Sept. 12. 

Your EDC also knows the importance that schools play in our community. We are doing everything we can to support the Northland Workforce Development Center in their fund-raising effort that will prepare our young adults for successful careers in skilled trades. Supporting the education of our future workforce is critical to the success of our county. 

Other noteworthy partnerships included supporting our friends at North Point Development in their pursuit of the Ascent Apartment Development which we believe is the catalyst to revitalizing North Oak Trafficway. 

Regional Issues

Along with Northland Neighborhoods, the EDC also focused our attention to help the KCATA purchase and then hire Drake Development to re-envision the K-Mart site on Vivion Road. Because of rising KCATA service costs, our two organizations provided input on an effective regional system and will have a seat at the table as our elected leaders create and implement a plan. 

Our Executive Director, David Slater, was able to appoint NKC Mayor Delong to the Mid-America Regional Council’s Total Transportation Policy Committee. Mayor Delong’s involvement with MARC and insight on infrastructure allocations could be very insightful to Northtown soon. David Slater also appointed Kearney Mayor Randy Pogue to his seat on the Highway Committee. Mayor Pogue will be a strong voice on our county highway goals, especially 92 Highway.

Additionally, we welcomed META into our county and have helped them navigate a few challenges that come with billion-dollar projects. 

Northland Successes

There are countless things we celebrated this year in the Northland. We have award-winning hospitals, quality education with new superintendents to lead future generations, a new female police chief, numerous promotions of deserving leaders and a brand-new airport. 

A Winnetonka grad was named Missouri Woman of the Year by USA Today for her role in bringing the NFL Draft and the World Cup to Kansas City. Our non-profit organizations have continued to focus on the health and well-being of our community. Bruce and Dawn Cramer were invited to help close out the New York Stock Exchange. Superbowl Champion Patrick Mahomes filmed a commercial at St. Pius High School, North Kansas City set a new world record in the Guinness book of World Records and Liberty North High School football team became the Missouri Class 6 State Champions. I have only begun to touch on the amazing programs, businesses, leaders and teams that represent our county. I know that I missed many and assure you that it would take me all day for me to recognize them all. I am confident you want to get out from lunch on time. 

When good things happen to enhance our county’s quality of life or economic development, your EDC is not always leading the charge. However, we will be there to support in any way possible. It might be having a seat at the table or cheering others on from the stands. The growth of the Northland and Clay County is no longer a question of “if it will happen … it is happening.” As your EDC, we will continue to stand together to make our county a better place to live, work, play and learn. 

Continued Progress

In closing, it was an honor to serve as your chairwoman for the past two years. I am very excited for our continued growth and prosperity as a community – as a large, diverse and determined family. 

It is with our great partnerships and people that Clay County will continue to make great progress. 

I would now like to officially pass the torch to Kirk Davis, who many of you know. But I have had the pleasure of being inspired by his leadership over the past several years. Kirk, I want to thank you for your guidance as we have navigated this journey. Kirk and your Board of Directors have developed a strategic plan with input from all of you. Will allow Kirk to share the highlights with you now. Ladies and Gentlemen, your new Chair Elect of Clay County EDC, Kirk Davis. 

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