I would like to take this opportunity to inform any Independence Chamber of Commerce members who missed the February “Business After Hours” networking event at UMB bank on Gudgell Road that they really missed a veritable feast for both the eyes and the tummy.

I would like to take this opportunity to inform any Independence Chamber of Commerce members who missed the February “Business After Hours” networking event at UMB bank on Gudgell Road that they really missed a veritable feast for both the eyes and the tummy. Alice Roth, V.P. banking center manager, said employees had gone far beyond the extra mile to decorate the lobby with a Valentine theme.


The food, as beautifully displayed as it was delicious, was supplied by Vivalore. It provided a hint of the fare to be offered in an 8,000-square-foot restaurant to be opened at 10815 Winner Road in Englewood this spring. The brother and sister owners, Whit Ross and Cindy Foster, promise that Vivalore’s indoor and outside patio dining will become the talk of the town.


Cork & Barrel, whose business card reads “Weird Beer and Wine,” supplied the libations. Seeing nothing “weird” about their products, I was told by their proprietor, Dawn Brooks, that they are a specialty shop for uncommon beers. The “weird” originated when a person called them asking for a particular off-brand beer that they happened to have in stock. The customer commented that they evidently carried “weird” stock, and the name stuck. In December, they moved their business into new quarters in the Englewood Arts District at 10819 E. Winner Road.


“The Chamber’s Business After Hours program,” says Shelly Kliefoth of the Independence chamber, “provides an opportunity for members to come together in a setting supplied by a member; thus increasing their knowledge and contacts with local and regional business people. This is the first time we’ve met at this UMB Bank location, but judging by today’s crowd, I trust it won’t be the last.”


James Hobbs, the chamber’s marketing and communications specialist, was beaming with pride about the chamber’s 2012 program. He says the chamber will show considerable growth this year.


“We have a great and enthusiastic staff, and everyone is pulling in the same direction,” he said.


That sounds like a winning combination.


Scott Helmandollar, the bank’s customer service manager, noted that UMB is a homegrown institution that began in Kansas City on Aug. 28, 1902, and has grown considerably from its humble beginnings. Today it is the third largest bank in Missouri with 106 locations throughout a seven-state area, including three branches in Independence. The bank also boasts a network of more than 600 ATMs and, as of last September, it had 2,439 employees. It can now proudly tell its clients that UMB Bank has earned the nation’s highly respected financial five-star health rating.