• Jeff Fox: Wal-Mart opens market in Blue Springs today

  • This is a notable day in Blue Springs. The city becomes the only one on the Missouri side of the metro area with a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, with groceries, household items and a drive-thru pharmacy.

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  • This is a notable day in Blue Springs. The city becomes the only one on the Missouri side of the metro area with a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, with groceries, household items and a drive-thru pharmacy.
    The store is at Missouri 7 and Duncan Road. There’s a ribbon-cutting at 7:30 a.m.
    At 40,000 square feet, it’s one-fifth the size of the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Coronado Drive. It’s open 24 hours a day, it features a deli and bakery, and the company says it will have 70 employees. The company has two of these stores in Overland Park and one in Shawnee.
    Fixing Interstate 70
    It got dropped as the Missouri General Assembly wrapped up its business last month, but one area legislator points out that the state still has to address its long-term transportation needs.
    Early in the year, it looked as if there was a good chance the legislature would forward to the voters a 1-cent sales tax primarily for roads and bridges, and Exhibit A for the need has always been Interstate 70, which the Missouri Department of Transportation says needs to be rebuilt and widened across the state. The economic implications of the road’s current condition and possible upgrade are profound. Also, the price tag is somewhere around $1 billion.
    Both the House and Senate passed bills to put the tax on the ballot, but they didn’t agree to the same language, and the issue died in the Senate at the last minute.
    State Rep. Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit, has been focused on this issue for some time. Cierpiot, assistant majority floor leader in the House, mentioned it at last Friday’s Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast.
    “It’s something that we’re going to have to revisit because MoDOT has got funding problems,” he said.
    Culver’s opens
    At Little Blue Parkway and Valley View Parkway, across from Blue Ridge Bank & Trust, the new Independence Culver’s has been open for a couple of days. There’s a ribbon-cutting at 9 this morning. Butter burger lovers, rejoice.
    Best, worst careers?
    The Mid-America Regional Council has taken a close look at area unemployment numbers and broken them down by type of work. By its estimates, joblessness in construction stands at 12.1 percent, compared with an overall metro area unemployment rate of 6.1 percent in April. Two other fields – building and grounds cleaning, and maintenance – tied for second highest at 7.1 percent.
    At the other end of the list, the figure for “computer and mathematical” is just 1.4 percent.
    There are roughly 1 million jobs in the metro area, and jobless rates for some of the bigger categories were below that 6.1 percent April figure. “Sales and related,” with 169,546 jobs, was at 3.7 percent; office and administration support, with 185,554 jobs, was at 4.8 percent; and business and financial operations, with 85,313 jobs, was at 2.2 percent.
    Page 2 of 2 - And this always bears repeating: MARC points out that job categories requiring more education correlate strongly with lower unemployment rates.
    MARC also has some other figures out, so let’s have a pop quiz. Name the 10 largest cities in the metro area, in order of course. Bonus question: How many cities of 20,000 or more does the metro area have?
    Need a minute? OK, the U.S. Census Bureau has released its 2012 population estimates, and MARC tallied that up for the Kansas City area.
    Now, ready?
    No. 1 is easy. Kansas City, Mo., the largest city in the state, is at 464,310 people, up 3,590 from the 2010 census. The next three are on the Kansas side of the state line: Overland Park, 178,919, up 4,809, which is a remarkable 2.76 percent; Kansas City, Kan., 147,268, up 1,252; and Olathe, 130,045, up 3,804, or 3 percent.
    Independence, the fourth largest city in Missouri, comes in at No. 5 in the metro area, with 117,270 people, up 0.28 percent. It’s followed by Lee’s Summit – No. 6 in the metro area and No. 6 in Missouri – at 92,468, up 1 percent. Then comes No. 7 Shawnee, at 63,622, up 2 percent.
    Blue Springs is No. 8 in the metro area, at 53,014, up 0.66 percent, followed by Lenexa, 49,398, up 2.32 percent; and Leavenworth at 35,816, up 1.25 percent.
    And that bonus question: The area has 18 cities of 20,000 or more. In addition to the top 10 listed above, those are Leawood (32,539), Liberty (29,811), Raytown (29,513 and the only one on the list actually slipping a bit), Gladstone (25,931), Grandview (24,601), Belton (23,244), Prairie Village (21,769) and Gardner (20,318).
    Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business editor and reporter. Reach him at 816-350-6313 or jeff.fox@examiner.net. Follow him on Twitter @FoxEJC.

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