Ask Rick Viar, and he’ll tell you.
The outgoing chairman of the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council said a recap of the previous fiscal year (2012-13) shows the organization is one of the ‘go-to’ parties in helping further the economic proficiency of the city.
The last year has also revealed to Viar that collaboration between entities throughout the city more so than anything is critical to economic development and redevelopment.
“I think the main focus for us this year was one of reemphasizing the collaborative effort for economic development,” Viar, president and CEO of Summit Bank of Kansas City, said July 29. “Pulling on the strength of the city, the strength of Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street, the strength of the (Lee’s Summit) Chamber (of Commerce), and then the leadership strength of the EDC – my mission this year was primarily one of rebuilding a strong collaboration to make sure we’ve got good bench strength and we’ve got the proper leadership.
“EDC is not going to lead every effort, but we’ll support the ones that we don’t take the lead in.”
Viar said one of the things that stood out to him this past year was the reaffirmation of private sector investments. According to the EDC’s annual report, an audited report of the 2011-12 fiscal year showed 45 percent of the organization’s revenue ($565,805) came via the private sector.
“We’re on the right path,” Viar said. “We had a very strong turnout and support from the local businesses that think that we are doing the right thing and that we are going in the right direction. And I’m talking about investors outside of our two largest, which would be the city of Lee’s Summit and the R-7 school district.”
Viar, who will remain on the EDC’s executive committee as Brad Cox takes over as chairman, said the course will probably remain the same as far as economic vision and growth in the city.
“I think Brad is going to continue the collaborative effort,” Viar said. “He’s initiated a couple of projects. One is a session we’re having this week with leaders from Downtown Main Street, the Chamber of Commerce and some city leaders to talk about the four or five priority projects this year and which organization is going to take the lead with the collaborative support of the others. One might be the Missouri-150/Missouri-291 corridor; another one might be determining the best way to bring a convention center to the city.
“A third high priority is the economic sustainability of downtown, and making certain that it is redevelopment-ready. Now, that may be an effort that Trisha Drape (executive director) of Downtown Main Street actually leads, but we would bring the economic muscle to that project. We are the go-to organization for economic development, strength issues and information regarding (project development).”