Ann Smith-Tate is economic development director for the city of Independence

1 What are your primary roles and responsibilities as economic development manager for the city of Independence?

To facilitate redevelopment opportunities for the city – commercial corridors, districts and other opportunities as they are presented – workforce development. I work a lot with the merchants association on the Square. I work with some business retention and attraction projects.

2 What are several significant retail developments now taking place in Independence?

The biggest, obviously, is the Bass Pro development out at I-70 and I-470. The Trinity Development, which is also at the same quadrant of I-70 and Little Blue Parkway, has Children’s Mercy Hospital, the Drury Inn. There is an Arby’s that’s opening. There is a Corner Cafe, which will  be a nice addition out there. Those are the two main ones that are being built. We’re working on infilling a lot of the stuff that’s already existing along either Noland Road or now we have some vacancies out in that 39th Street and Jackson Drive area. Mostly the developers work on doing that new part.    

3 How does the Independence Square contribute to the city’s overall economic picture?

We’re very fortunate that we have a viable downtown area. It really is and has been and will remain the downtown part of the city. It’s important that this area is strong and that we’re bringing not only our own citizens to come here and shop and eat but also bringing in other people from other communities to show them that truly the heart of Independence, the history and the diversity we have – it really encapsulates in a very small area what Independence is all about. 

4 With the struggling economy, what resources does the city’s economic development office offer?

We work with the state – they have a variety of incentives. We just were designated an enhanced enterprise zone in April. We are moving forward with applying for a second zone and hope to have that in place in the next couple of months. That allows for tax credits throughout the state and tax abatement locally.

5 How long have you served as the economic development manager? What is your favorite aspect of your job?

I’ve worked at the city for two-and-a-half years. (My favorite aspect is) the range of stuff that I get to do, from working on multimillion dollar deals to helping small businesses create a vision for Englewood or the Square – really getting involved in what makes this community thrive. Hopefully, at the end of the day or at the end of the decade, it’s a better place for all of the people that live here because they’re proud of their community.

– Adrianne DeWeese