Clay County and the Economic Development Council continue to see progress on the Big 4, a series of projects identified in the Strategic Plan to help ensure world-class growth for the future.
Originally launched in 2013, the first Strategic Plan was an overwhelming success with several items completed well before the five-year window. In 2018, the EDC began a series of meetings and studies to identify targets for the next five years.
Announced in late 2019, this new Big 4 includes the expansion of the KC Tech Academy in Liberty, the “587” project for quality development in the area surrounding the I-435 and Highway 152 interchange; expansion of the University of Missouri Center for Excellence in Orthopedics at Liberty Hospital; and creation of 50 new businesses and 5,000 jobs, doubling growth that was targeted in the original, 2013 Strategic Plan.
Train Workers, Attract Business
The Tech Academy targets creation of the most effective advanced manufacturing and skilled trades workforce in the nation. KCTA focuses on providing practical hands-on training to K-12 students, preparing them with the skills to be productive employees. Long-term plans call for expansion to serve students and adults throughout the region, creating a workforce training center that will offer opportunities for area workers and attract businesses who need a solid employee base. Between state and local grant matches, the KC Tech Academy has accumulated $3.9 million.
The Orthopedics Center will grow the current University of Missouri and Liberty Hospital partnership into a major treatment and research facility. The program began over two years ago with Liberty Hospital collaborating with Missouri’s flagship university health system to provide Liberty Hospital patients access to the latest research and treatments for orthopedic conditions. Continued pursuit and expansion of these goals will have dramatic impact to the area’s health care.
The most dramatic element of the Big Four may involve development of vacant land at one of Greater Kansas City’s most strategic locations: I-435 and Highway 152. Christened the “587 Project” by adding the two highway numbers, the effort now planning for marketing and land-use studies to jump start development in the largely vacant land around this interchange. A funding request for a feasibility study for the 587 project is in the final stages, thanks to the efforts of Kansas City Council Persons Heather Hall and Kevin O’Neil.
The final Big Four component is a repeat of the original, 2013 initiative: bringing 50 new companies and developing 5,000 new jobs by 2023.