When it comes to attracting and retaining businesses in Eastern Jackson County, businesses need look no further than the area’s economic development councils and chambers of commerce.

When it comes to attracting and retaining businesses in Eastern Jackson County, businesses need look no further than the area’s economic development councils and chambers of commerce.

In fact, the public/private entities see luring and keeping businesses here as among their major functions. Rick Hemmingsen, CEO and president of the Independence Chamber of Commerce, said the staff spends a great deal of time on that task.

About 40 volunteer ambassadors contact each of the approximately 800 chamber members personally each year, inquiring about their needs and how the chamber can help them grow. And there’s no bigger client in Independence than small business. Hemmingsen said 97 percent of chamber member businesses employ 10 people or fewer, he said.

“The heart of our employment and our existence here is small business,” Hemmingsen said.

Tom Lesnak, president of the Independence Council for Economic Development, said his organization also is in the business of helping businesses. In that role, the council tries to do more and offer better tools, he said. That comes in the form of new programs and help with state tax credits for equipment and employees.

“We’re the middle man that brings it all together,” Lesnak said, adding that the ICED helps area employers identify and apply for help in the form of programs and grants.

And when companies are successful in garnering such support, the community is the winner.

“It’s all new money coming back to the community,” he said.

The Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council are no different in their goals. The two work together in their goals of assisting Blue Springs area businesses.

One way that’s done is through the Eastern Jackson County Training Consortium, which was formed as another tool offering such assistance. The EDC offers support to the consortium by offering office space and other forms of support.

The group has nine member companies that hold monthly meetings to discuss how to solve work force problems, issues and obstacles. The consortium mainly solves such issues by working to train employees. A $30,000 state grant to assist companies in such training was awarded in early August, said Carla Mason, who serves as outreach specialist for the consortium, said the consortium currently is working to distribute the funds to area business in order to be used for employee training.

The funds must be used by May 2009, and some employees already are enrolled in classes this fall. Classes include leadership courses for managers, technical classes, such as welding, information technology, focusing on computers, and quality control, Mason said.

The Eastern Jackson County Training Consortium will host an open house from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Islamorada Fish Company restaurant at Bass Pro Shops, Interstate 470 and U.S. 40, Independence. The open house is designed to introduce the consortium and its purpose.

To attend, or for more information, contact carla.mason@ejctraining.org., visit www.ejctraining.org, or call Carla Mason at 816-228-0210, ext. 351.