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Examiner
  • Development group returns offices Square area

  • Independence Economic Development is back at the Free Enterprise Center, the building that houses the Independence Chamber of Commerce just off the Square.

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  • Independence Economic Development is back at the Free Enterprise Center, the building that houses the Independence Chamber of Commerce just off the Square.
    Three years ago, the group left the chamber facility and moved to its Independence Regional Ennovation Center, a business incubator that was just starting. It houses several food-related startups. It’s leaving some staff there to concentrate on the incubator.
    “That incubator has been so incredibly successful, and it’s really a star for Independence,” said Franklin “Kim” Kimbrough, president and CEO of the chamber.
    Kimbrough said the two groups have different roles. The chamber looks to aid businesses thinking of locating or expanding in the community, and Independence Economic Development focuses more on the nuts and bolts of such things as available sites and state incentive programs.
    “It’s a nice marriage. ... We complement each other incredibly well,” he said.
    There also were some hangups, he said, when a business had a question at the chamber but sometimes had to be sent a mile down Truman Road to the Independence Economic Development offices for an answer.
    “That’s not the way you treat your prospects,” Kimbrough said.
    He said both groups’ boards unanimously approved the move late in the spring.
    The University of Central Missouri, which has a variety of business programs, also has a presence at the Free Enterprise Center, though it’s had to cut back due to university budget issues, Kimbrough said. That future of that relationship with the chamber is subject to negotiations in the coming months.
    “We would like to see them be more visible in the community,” Kimbrough said.
     
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