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State of the County Outlines EDC Progress, Future Projects

January 2021

EDC Chair Greg Canuteson presented the State of the County address during the Keystone Awards event.

The EDC’s 2020 Keystone Awards event included a preview of 2021 and highlight of recent events that will impact the future.

EDC Chair Greg Canuteson presented a significant State of the County report that included elements that will carry beyond even the new year. Canuteson covered a wide range of topics in his presentation:

2020 will always be remembered as the year of COVID-19. Lives were lost. Economies were devastated. Jobs were lost as companies shuttered as we were grouped into essential or non-essential businesses. Over 270,000 Americans have died due to COVID, over 1,460,000 world-wide.

Recognizing Commitment

Nurses and doctors who are trained to heal and comfort were forced to run towards an unknown danger as if they were members of the military or first responders. They did not sign up to risk their lives, but they did to save the lives of others. School teachers did not sign up to face these dangers but forged ahead because our children needed to be educated.

Your Clay County Economic Development Council did not close for one day. We knew that our businesses, schools and governments needed our assistance and we were there for them. In fact, your EDC led several efforts to help during the pandemic.

Chris Evans, the project leader for Feed Northland Kids needed help to feed the kids sent home from schools this spring. Thanks to a $15,000 matching grant from Ford Motor Company your EDC raised over $50,000 to help those less fortunate keep their children fed.

Helping Local Business

Businesses devastated by the economic impact of the virus needed financial help. Our County Commission quickly passed the stimulus dollars from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act to the cities of our County. After receiving direction from our municipalities. Your EDC evaluated applications and then distributed over $1 million to small businesses in Clay County.

Recognizing that the education process needed to march forward your EDC worked very closely with the Northland Education and Business Alliance to create a virtual career fair. NEBA, founded by your EDC, was hoping to attract 500 students to see real world opportunities from 18 lines of business. We wound up with over 50 presenters from 24 lines of businesses reaching over 2,500 students to develop them for our workforce. When Governor Mike Parson got wind of what NEBA was doing he took time out of his day to tape an opening greeting that was played before each session. The Governor’s speech and the 24 presentations are on the NEBA website. Feel free to take a look.

Good Times, Good Luck

As you know, the show must go on. Your EDC needed to have an annual meeting. Due to COVID restrictions it was determined that we needed to meet outside. We were blessed with a perfect October night to celebrate. Rob Dixon, the Director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development was our keynote speaker. John Miller a long-term innovator and developer in Clay County received our Look North Award.

We also showed the world that your EDC could party as hard as we work. Your EDC helped our new member T-Shotz with a soft grand opening. Sponsored by Ford Motor Company we were able to provide food, drink, golfing and entertainment to 150 of our closest friends. Due to the weather and COVID restrictions any large gatherings have been put on hold, but you can bet your EDC has some great times planned for as soon as we can get outside…unless any of you are up for a sledding party?

We want to thank TJ Berry for his two years of service as our executive director. TJ left for a position with the SBA. We replaced him with David Slater who you may recognize as the Mayor of Pleasant Valley. If you don’t know him you are probably thinking what? If you do know him you know he will bring a passion and energy level that is not often duplicated. After a 40-year career, mostly in banking, working south of the river he has a Clay County job for the first time. David was recognized in 2016 by the Missouri Municipal League with their state-wide Distinguished Service award. In 2019 he won a leadership award from the Mid America Regional Council. When Sly James was term-limited in 2019 David was elected by his peers to lead Missouri Mayors United as their president.

Clay County on the Move

Hey, we had a pretty good year. COVID be damned. We may have hit a few bumps but Clay County is on the move. We will hear about our municipalities this spring during the State of the Cities address, but I want to share with you some stats from Kansas City. Building permits in Clay County through September were 1,687 for $172,344,327. The other three counties in Kansas City totaled 1,139 for $151,180,036. And once again, that is just Kansas City. Our county is on the move and on the right track.

Your EDC is working to help create jobs for all of these residents. We have co-hosted small business boot camps. We have reached out and assisted many of our businesses. Our Midwest Small Business Financing company generated over $2.5 million in new loans so far this year.

A lot has happened in our county over the past year and I have yet to mention our Big 4: Our Kansas City Tech Academy; MU Center for Excellence in Orthopedics; 50 New Businesses and 5,000 jobs and the 587 Project.

2020 is almost over and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. With your help that light will be coming from a freight train with your EDC’s name on it. Let’s do something special.

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