Independence is blessed with a strong heritage and vibrant community spirit. The values of hard work, faith and family are present in abundance. Those values are never more visible than when they are challenged and put to the test. The economic conditions of 2009 have shaken many families and companies to their core.

Independence is blessed with a strong heritage and vibrant community spirit. The values of hard work, faith and family are present in abundance. Those values are never more visible than when they are challenged and put to the test. The economic conditions of 2009 have shaken many families and companies to their core.
But I believe there is strong evidence that Independence is responding positively, and that our future is still there for us to create. While there are many indicators associated with economic development, perhaps none is more important than job creation and retention.
The new Independence Ennovation Center is an aggressive and creative re-use of the former Independence Regional Health Center. Sometimes you have no choice but to make lemonade out of lemons. While the community hated to see the hospital close, the city has responded in partnership with private developers, the Independence School District and the Independence Council for Economic Developmentto provide opportunities for local residents to start new businesses in an incubator environment which will help support their success.
According to ICED, national figures show that 80 percent of all new businesses started in an incubator are still in business 5 years later (compared to 20 percent of non-incubated businesses). Also, 87 percent of all incubated businesses also stay in the community where they were incubated, which means job growth and new economic activity for Independence.
In this economy, a lot of families have found themselves in transition because of job loss. One challenge to finding new employment is often whether one has proper training. To meet this challenge, the city is working in cooperation with ICED and other agencies to develop a program that will assist Independence residents in securing higher wage jobs and provide on the job skills training that will raise the quality of life for many of our local citizens. It will also help local companies find local talent to fill their open positions.
Finally, I would note that in order for a community to grow effectively, and in a manner that promotes economic development opportunity, there has to be a clear vision and sense of direction. That is why over the past number of months the city has been actively working to collect information and opinion through surveys and other means to revise and update the city’s comprehensive plan. One aspect of this effort will be to identify areas of “job centers,” which will allow for companies to grow and thrive in future years.
Yes, the economic future for our community is going to be challenging. But I think it will also be promising and rewarding. As has been the case on so many other occasions, when we work together for the good of Independence, positive things have happened. Economic development is no exception, and I am confident that as a community we will continue to succeed.