Business owner Tom Waters is stepping in as the interim president of the Independence Chamber of Commerce while a new president and CEO is found.
Hap Graff, who’s held the job for three years and is generally credited with turning the chamber around financially, last week surprised the community and his own board in announcing his retirement. His last day is Dec. 1.
Waters, who owns Corporate CopyPrint, has been this year’s chamber board chair. He is stepping aside from that position, and last year’s chair, Centerpoint Medical Center CEO David Williams, will slide back into that role for the time being.
The chamber’s executive board made those decisions Monday and released a statement saying the chamber is enjoying momentum and progress right now. That position of strength, Waters said, means there’s no need to push the hiring process along quickly.
“We’re not going to be in a rush,” he said.
Waters echoed Graff in saying the staff is solid and experienced.
“They’re going to keep day-to-day operations going,” he said.
Small Business Saturday is this Saturday, an attempt to steer a little more holiday spending to locally owned stores. (It was created by a really big business, American Express.)
Google “shop small” and click on the map to find businesses offering discounts and promotions.
Also, the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce is holding its annual receipt reward contest. Take your Blue Springs business receipts to the chamber office at 1000 W. Main St. (8 to 4, Monday through Friday). Each receipt is an entry. There are drawings for gift cards. Call the chamber at 816-229-8558.
Amtrak is doing a little better, both nationally and closer to home.
The Missouri River Runner, which stops four times a day in Independence, had 174,000 riders in the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. That’s up 1.8 percent from fiscal year 2016.
Nationwide, Amtrak had 31.7 million riders, up 1.5 percent. Revenues also were up 1.1 percent, and Amtrak is selling enough seats and cafe car coffee to cover 94.7 percent of its operational costs.
Kristi Jamison of the Missouri Department of Transportation told me more recent figures – garbled in some media reports last week – are even more encouraging. The River Runner had a 4 percent gain in riders from July through October. Track work had thrown off on-time arrivals significantly for much of the summer, but that’s bounced back. The River Runner arrived on time – that is, at its final destination in Kansas City or St. Louis and within minutes of the scheduled arrival – 87 percent of the time in September, 82 percent of the time in October and 84 percent of the time so far in November.
You might have spotted brand new and impressive Siemens engines pulling those trains. They have been long in coming and went into service last week. Next are new passenger cars and other cars, eventually.
“It’s going to be a little ways out,” she said.
-- Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business editor and reporter. Reach him at 816-350-6313 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He posts comments and links about business and other things on Twitter @FoxEJC.