Lee’s Summit, MO—Feb. 3, 2017—Leading investors with the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council learned about opportunities to tap into the region’s growing e-commerce and export businesses at the LSEDC’s monthly Advisory Board Luncheon on Feb. 1, 2017 at The Stanley Event Space, 308 SE Douglas St.
Chris Gutierrez, president of Kansas City SmartPort, told LSEDC investors that Greater Kansas City delivered a record 9 million square feet of speculative industrial space in 2016 and is on track to deliver another 9 million square feet in 2017.
“The great thing about all of this speculative industrial space is that it is all getting leased,” Gutierrez said. “It’s a hot market for three reasons: We have product available, our labor force is strong and there is significant public/private investment.”
Workforce availability and readiness is a top concern for companies seeking locations for warehouse/distribution and e-commerce operations. Gutierrez urged business leaders to help spread the word to school districts and communities that supply chain jobs are career jobs.
“The message needs to get to parents and educators, and it really needs to start as early as 8th grade,” Gutierrez said. “It is important for groups like the Lee’s Summit EDC for example, to be a resource for Lee’s Summit and provide information to the community and schools.”
SmartPort is a non-profit economic development organization that promotes and enhances the Kansas City region’s status as a leading North American logistics hub.
Investors also received an update from the World Trade Center of Kansas City on a regional effort designed to improve exports. WTC-KC Director Ivry Karamitros said that a 2014 Brookings Institution Study found that when it comes to export intensity and overall economic growth, Kansas City lags behind peer cities. The study led to the creation of the Kansas City Global Cities Initiative, a five-year project designed to grow exports.
“We want to help Kansas City become more globally minded and focused,” Karamitros said. “It truly takes a regional effort.”
WTC-KC is housed at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and serves as a global business liaison for companies who export goods. The agency offers companies one-on-one access to an “Export Concierge” who can provide trade leads, a customized market analysis and needs assessment, as well as assistance with Certificates of Origin.
Karamitros said building relationships with local economic development agencies like the Lee’s Summit EDC are a key part of WTC-KC’s strategy, which calls for connecting 100 companies to export assistance providers over the life of the initiative.
This spring, WTC is hosting an Ambassador to Colombia for a workshop on exports to the South American nation. Companies interested in meeting with the ambassador are encouraged to call the World Trade Center to set up an appointment.