Jeff Fox: Local businesses honored for civic efforts

Staff Writer
The Examiner
The Examiner

The Independence Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council have presented the Independence Business of the Year awards. Those winners are:

• Start-Up Business of Year – 3 Trails Brewing Co.

“We’re thrilled with their investment on the Independence Square. We’re thrilled with what they’ve done with their building. … And they’re very popular with their clients too,” said Tom Waters, 2020 chair of the EDC and a fellow Square business owner at Corporate CopyPrint.

“We’re right there on the forefront of the activities and the fun of our community here on the Square,” said company President Matt Medley.

• Non-profit of the Year – the Jackson County Historical Society.

“It’s really an honor to be recognized by the EDC and the chamber for this,” said Caitlin Eckard, executive director of the Historical Society.

• Hospitality Business of the Year – Los Cabos Mexican Grill & Cantina.

• Best Place to Work – CommunityAmerica Credit Union. Among other things, the credit union provides paid time for employees to do volunteer work in the community.

• Small business of the Year – Corporate Copy Print.

• Large Business of the Year – Ronson Manufacturing, a sheet metal company that recently retrofit and moved into the old Kmart space on U.S. 24. The company said the EDC was instrumental in helping it find the right space for expansion.

• Philanthropic Business of the Year – Continental Siding.

“One of the things that has been so inspiring is their Someone in Need program, where they have provided resources to all their employees to allow them to give where they see the biggest needs in our community,” said Doug Cowan, president and CEO of the Community Services League.

Find a little help

The Missouri Job Center at 15301 E. 23rd St. in Independence has reopened, for appointments only. It had been closed since spring because of the pandemic, but those centers have been reopening across the state over the last few weeks. The centers have a wealth of career and job-search services. Call 816-521-5700.

Looking for growth

Independence stubbed its toe late last year on a large industrial project, and there’s some question about the next steps.

Tim Cowden, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council, had a thought or two on that at Tuesday’s annual meeting of the Independence Economic Development Council.

“We’re undergoing a new industrial revolution right now,” he said.

It’s all about e-commerce, he said, a trend accelerated by the pandemic. He said spec buildings – a building put up in hopes of attracting a business – can be a good idea.

Kansas City’s location in the middle of the country, once seen as a drawback, is now an advantage, he said.

The situation has shifted for cities ready to take advantage.

“This isn’t April 2020 any more,” he said.

Jobless reports

The state of Missouri has reported a decline in unemployment for June. The state added 71,600 jobs in June, dropping the jobless rate to 7.9 percent, compared with 10.1 percent in May, according to the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Still, that also compares with a rate of 3.1 percent in June 2019.

The state’s jobless rate has been at or below the national rate each month for more than five years. The state had a civilian workforce of 3.02 million people last month, and 2.78 million of them had jobs.

Only construction and the federal government (thanks to temporary hiring for the census) had more jobs in June 2020 than in June 2019. Manufacturing is down 16,100 jobs, leisure and hospitality is down 77,300, and education and health services is down 20,8000.

The overall June bounce-back was evident in Kansas City as well. The metro area had a civilian workforce of 1.11 million in June, down from 1.14 million a year earlier. Of those 1.11 million, 1.02 million had jobs last month and 87,480 were looking for work, an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent. That’s significantly down from the 123,742 looking for work in May (11.1 percent) but still more than double the 36,386 (3.2 percent) in June 2019.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at