During the past four-plus years I have had unique access to witness and learn first-hand about growth and development drivers and opportunities that are shaping our community and the region’s economic environment and future.

During the past four-plus years I have had unique access to witness and learn first-hand about growth and development drivers and opportunities that are shaping our community and the region’s economic environment and future. The following is my perspective of how Blue Springs can position itself alongside our region within the global economy, particularly in light of the favorable announcements of MU’s plans for Blue Springs and the Missouri Innovation Park, which will be addressed shortly.
Growth and prosperity operate on a continuum that ebbs and flows through communities, states and countries. The jarring economic transition we are experiencing today makes understanding each community’s place in the global marketplace more important than ever so as not to chase dying industries and businesses. By examining local and regional economic advantages, both local and regional assets can be strategically leveraged to competitive advantage among global peers.
Competition is healthy for the economy, and its highest form is found when a concentration of a region’s wealth, assets and knowledge combine through groupings of business and industry clusters as in examples such as information technology and Silicon Valley; bio-med and San Diego; or financial services and New York, London or Tokyo. Clusters are not static but constantly changing and only remain viable if they are dynamic, which historically is driven through both public and private research linked to a knowledge-based workforce, in turn supported through all levels of K-12 and higher education and workforce training. 
It is reasonable to agree that when concentrations of similar companies and their customer and supplier chains seek to build competitive advantage by linking value-added production, pricing, access to research and development, and integration of their knowledge-based workers the results are successful industry clusters. These clusters possess and will produce capital attraction, new business start-ups, co-location of high-growth companies linked to the regional industry clusters, and concentrations of highly productive workers, knowledge-based jobs, and research and investment linkages tied to the region’s clusters.
Over the past three years leaders from the Blue Springs City Council, the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Blue Springs Business Association, the Blue Springs School District, the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District and Jackson County have teamed with Blue Springs Economic Development Council and Blue Springs Growth Initiatives to attract the University of Missouri to Blue Springs and anchor the Missouri Innovation Park. Our focus is to put Blue Springs on the global map by linking the university’s global competitive research strengths to the strengths of the greater Kansas City region in such areas as translational medicine/animal health; sustainable energy and food for the future.
MU’s recently announced plans to come to Blue Springs will begin with a lease in the Heartland Financial Building, which is intended to lay the foundation for building corporate, civic, research and alumni outreach and collaboration that links MU more directly to the region’s 2.4 million residents and 20,000-plus companies, particularly the linkages to animal health and nutrition and sustainable energy to start. The plans to engage area utilities, agriculture, research facilities, engineering expertise, and finally the region’s historic connection to agriculture and valued added food production focus are at the forefront of global demand for our region’s products which will increase over time. MU’s interest in Blue Springs and vice versa allows us to integrate competitive advantages that start with the state of Missouri, extend to MU, and link our region to the global market-place. Our goal is to create high-wage-paying, 21st century, knowledge-based jobs that create value-linkages to higher education, which in turn support and reinforce area employers and their ability to prosper in the global marketplace in the years ahead.