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Examiner
  • Jeff Fox: Blue Springs chamber connects those who give

  • The Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce is apparently the first chamber in the metro area to sign on as a “chamber for good.”



    The idea is use a website to connect not-for-profit groups with those willing to give their time, money or other resources.

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  • The Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce is apparently the first chamber in the metro area to sign on as a “chamber for good.”
    The idea is use a website to connect not-for-profit groups with those willing to give their time, money or other resources.
    “And in Blue Springs, this chamber is all about making connections,” President Lara Vermillion said.
    The “Chamber for Good” program officially is launched on Aug. 1, but the chamber is asking non-profits to go ahead and sign in and let people know what they’re about. This week, she said, the YMCA posted that it’s already collecting back-to-school supplies. Also, a company planning a volunteer day might post how many people it has available. People find each other. Needs are met.
    The chamber has an active buy-local program, and it was that committee that recommended embracing this idea.
    “Just a natural extension of buying locally is giving locally,” Vermillion said.
    Interested? Go to this link: www.chamberforgood.com/bluesprings
    Hear that whistle
    It occurs to me that I’ve lived more than one-third of my life within easy hearing distance of the busy Union Pacific tracks that run through Independence, under U.S. 40, over I-70, along Noland Road briefly and then off to the northwest and into Kansas City. It almost seems you can judge the health of the economy by the number of freight trains rumbling by overnight and the number of times, while driving, that you get caught in front of Sonic at the 35th Street crossing.
    It has seemed as if traffic on that line has been picking up, maybe to pre-recession levels. The railroad says not quite, though it continues to slowly come back. The line from Kansas City to Jefferson City is at 21 trains a day, compared with 26 in 2008, before the recession really took root. The UP line from Kansas City to Marshall – running through Independence, Buckner and Levasy – is at 16, compared with 20 five years ago.
    Positive numbers
    Some quick data points:
    • Local governments in Eastern Jackson County have issued 296 permits for new single-family homes in the first five months of the year, according to the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City. That’s 16.2 percent ahead of last year. Blue Springs is up a startling 169 percent with 69 permits, Independence is up 33 percent with 32 permits, and Grain Valley has fallen back 38 percent, with just 10 permits. For the eight-county metro area, 337 permits were issued in May, the best May since 2007, the HBA says.
    Lee’s Summit alone accounts for close to half of the Eastern Jackson County total, with 123 so far this year, and it’s No. 4 overall, behind Kansas City, Olathe and Overland Park. Blue Springs is No. 7, and Independence is No. 12.
    Page 2 of 2 - • The average existing home sold in Jackson County in May went for $143,452.
    That’s 19.4 percent higher than a year ago and compares with a metrowide average of $177,619, up 11 percent. The average new home was up 2.2 percent, to $290,630, according to the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors and the Heartland Multiple Listing Service. That compares with a metrowide average of $342,351, up 12 percent in a year.
    • The June Business Conditions Index for Missouri was 54.7, up from 54.6, a figure calculated by Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group. Those numbers came out Monday. Although 54.7 on a scale of zero to 100 might not sound great, anything north of 50 indicates growth ahead. Creighton says the companies that make durable goods – cars, refrigerators – are expanding in Missouri.
    For nine Midwestern states as a whole – Arkansas and Oklahoma north to Minnesota and the Dakotas – the number is what Creighton called a “solid” 55.6, though it’s down a bit from 56.2 in May.
    What’s behind this? The Creighton Group, which surveys supply managers, has wrung its hands for years at the prospect but says inflationary pressures at the wholesale level have fallen four months in a row. Overall, the Midwest seems to be doing better than the nation as a hole.
    A couple of concerns: Rising interest rates are taking a toll on business confident, and about 30 percent of businesses reported “modest and negative impacts” from sequestration, brought to you by the federal government.
    Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business editor and reporter. Reach him at 816-350-6313 or jeff.fox@examiner.net. Follow on Twitter @FoxEJC.
     
     
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