In many ways, an announcement to be made this afternoon signifies the ending of 18 months of conversations between the president of the Independence Council for Economic Development and an Eastern Jackson County Realtor.

In many ways, an announcement to be made this afternoon signifies the ending of 18 months of conversations between the president of the Independence Council for Economic Development and an Eastern Jackson County Realtor.

It’s the ending of many negotiations, but it’s also the beginning of a proposed redevelopment and a facility that will aim to foster new businesses.

The Independence School District, the city of Independence, CEAH Realtors and the Independence Council for Economic Development will make the formal announcement of the Independence Regional Entrepreneurial Center at 2 p.m. today at 1509 W. Truman Road, the site of the former Independence Regional Health Center. Strategic partners in the IREC include the First Step Fund, the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute Inc.

Tom Lesnak, president of the Independence Council for Economic Development, said the Independence Board of Education met in a special open session Monday morning and unanimously approved a redevelopment agreement with Edwards Management Group LLC and the city of Independence. The Independence City Council previously approved the agreement, 4-2, which outlines the school district as owner of Phase 1 of the Independence Regional Entrepreneurial Center. Edwards Management Group LLC would own Phase 2, with David Edwards as the developer and project manager for both phases.

The Independence School District is willing to put its $5.5 million in projected HCA Centerpoint Medical Center tax increment financing dollars toward the redevelopment of the former Independence Regional Health Center. Lesnak said the district would own the former hospital’s south tower, totaling about 90,000 square feet.

While the school district has expressed interest in using the space for classroom or administrative purposes, no specific uses have been determined, Lesnak said.

“The big step for the incubator to come about was the lead agency as a partner, which was the school district,” said Lesnak, adding that today’s press conference also will address construction schedules and anticipated opening dates.

Lesnak said he also will talk about the economic impact analysis and what the effect will be in terms of the community’s return on investment. Taxpayers have a total of $15.5 million of initial investments, including $10 million that was approved with a total of $12 million available for the revitalization of Independence’s two former hospital sites.

“There is going to be a return on investment, if this facility is successful,” Lesnak said.