First of all, the coffee is good.

More important is what the Community Services League has brought to northwest Independence – a new business, some new jobs, community space and a place for training to improve the area’s workforce.

The BlendWell Cafe has opened in Fairmount. It’s in an old bank at 10725 East U.S. 24. Coffee, tea, Danish, and there’s a drive-thru.

A handful of us from The Examiner had the pleasure last week of going there to sit down with CSL’s Doug Cowan and Lynn Rose for a Facebook Live talk about challenges – and opportunities – in the local economy. Great conversation. Check it out on our Facebook page.

Few stories I’ve written in recent years seem to have resonated as deeply as the ones about CSL’s certified nurse’s assistant program, which has moved dozens of people – many of them single moms – into jobs with better paychecks, better benefits and better prospects. Much of that training continues to take place in what is now the coffee shop, along with other programs.

A politician I covered years ago was fond of saying the best social program in the world is spelled j-o-b. He was right. Step by step, the Community Services League is making a difference.

Quick hits

IHOP says its new site on the Coronado Drive restaurant row in Blue Springs should open in early September. No word on how many employees, but the company is taking applications. … The first Smoothie King in Eastern Jackson County is moving into the space at the old Zio’s on 39th Street in Independence, along with Aspen Dental. The spot in between remains unspoken for. … Bella Casa Flooring and Design is coming to a spot on U.S. 24 west of Jennings Road. … It must be about Labor Day weekend. Gas prices are up almost 12 cents a gallon in the last week in the Kansas City area, hitting $2.76.3 on Tuesday, according to Nationwide, it’s up a penny, to $2.83.5. A year ago – with a hurricane shutting down refineries – prices were $2.32.1 in Kansas City and $2.37.6 nationwide. … July was a little soft, and metrowide permits for new single-family homes are off 2 percent for the first seven months of the year – but not locally. Figures from the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City show Eastern Jackson County up 26.7 percent for the year, led by Blue Springs (266 permits, up 151 percent), Independence (98 permits, up 42 percent) and Grain Valley (66 permits, up 40 percent). Lee’s Summit is down but still has issued 269 permits.

Internet service

Comcast, which serves Independence, Blue Springs and other parts of the metro area, has expanded its Internet Essentials program to low-income veterans. The company says that means 1 million veterans can now get low-cost but high-speed Internet, an affordable computer, and free training in digital skills.

Overall, the company says, 6 million customers have Internet Essentials, roughly 2 million of them added in the last year. It’s $9.95 a month plus taxes.

The company cites census figures showing that 81 percent of American households with broadband service at home – but only 63 percent for households with incomes of $35,000 or less.

Want to know more? Go to or call 1-855-846-8376.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-350-6365 or He’s on Twitter @FoxEJC.