Is Grain Valley about to take off – again?

The Chamber of Commerce has a new executive director and is surveying local businesses about its next steps.

“We want to know what you need from your chamber, what you want,” Executive Director James Pycior said at the group’s monthly luncheon on Tuesday.

He said the chamber will have more committees for its many annual events such as Fair Days and the Taste of the World. He stressed that each of those, like the monthly luncheons, is a networking opportunity.

“We want you to be involved,” Pycior said. “We want you to be a part of this.”

The city’s Economic Development Corporation also has hired a new director, Rob Harrington, who said “We’re going to grow right along with the chamber.”

Grain Valley has easily been the fastest growing city in Jackson County since 2000 – up 141 percent as of mid-2014, the latest available estimate. After a pause after the Great Recession, housing starts in the city have jump sharply in the last couple of years. But business development – even attracting sit-down restaurants – has lagged, though plans for a grocery store and more at Interstate 70 and Main Street suggest that might be coming around.

Harrington said growth is coming to that part of Eastern Jackson County “and we can either say we want to be part of it, or we can let it pass us by.”

He chose to accentuate the positive.

“Together we can do anything,” he said.

 

New and next

A couple of store openings this week:

The Waffle House in Blue Springs in back after four months of renovations.

“Everything’s new. … So it’s like a new restaurant, same location,” said Tenasha Goshon, area people director for the company.

The restaurant, at 1500 N.W. Woods Chapel Road, was closed in late December and reopened on Monday. It was ready for the renovation. “It was one of our older units,” Goshon said.

Waffle House has 18 restaurants in the metro area, all owned by the company rather than franchisees, and Goshon said there are no plans to add any more.

An apparel and accessories store, rue21, is scheduled to open Thursday at Independence Center, according to mall management. It’s on the upper level near Old Navy and Express. There’s a giveaway for the first 100 customers.

The mall says Chip’s Candy Factory, on the lower level near Dick’s Sporting Goods, is coming in May.

 

Connect with leaders

The annual Eastern Jackson County Business Expo is coming up. Organizers say it will have close to 100 exhibitors and attract thousands of people. It’s from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. April 21 at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, 19100 East Valley View Parkway.

A luncheon beforehand is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The luncheon is $25 and includes admission to the expo. The expo alone is $10. Six chambers of commerce – Independence, Blue Springs, Raytown, Lee’s Summit, South Kansas City and Grandview – are sponsoring the event, and James Pycior of the Grain Valley chamber said that group will participate as well.

The luncheon speaker is Mary B. Lucas, author of “Lunchmeat & Life Lessons: Sharing a Butcher’s Wisdom.”

 

More wind power

Kansas City Power & Light, which serves most of the Missouri side of the metro area outside Independence, says the addition of two wind-power facilities means more renewable energy and a bit of a hedge against rising rates.

The company has signed 20-year contracts with NextEra Energy Resources, which has a wind farm opening by the end of 2016 east of St. Joseph, and with Tradewind Energy, which plans to have its wind farm in Missouri’s northwest corner up and running by September 2017. Together, that’s an added 500 megawatts of power, equivalent to the amount needed for 170,000 homes.

KCP&L says proximity was part of why it chose these two, both of which are in its service area. Major transmission lines to power wind-generated power across several states have run into stiff opposition, and KCP&L presumably won’t have to worry about that.

The company says wind power won’t take the place of big, coal-fired plants but it can supplement that power. The company also can qualify for federal tax credits and says that will help hold down rates.

The company also has rolled out several programs to help businesses and residential customers save energy and money, from a heating-and-cooling rebate to an LED discount. Lots of details at www.kcpl.com/save.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business editor and reporter. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net or 816-350-6313. He posts business news and other items @FoxEJC.