Archive for Business

Business West to focus on Turner Diagonal

The new Amazon warehouse has changed the landscape along the Turner Diagonal Corridor. A panel of experts will discuss how this came about and the related development potential at the annual meeting of Business West starting at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the Mary Ann Flunder Lodge (formerly the Conference Center) at Kansas City Kansas Community College, 7250 State Ave.

The panelists will be Brent Miles, Northpoint Development; Jon Stephens, Unified Government; and Conrad Miller, a development lawyer. Jane Winkler Philbrook, the president of Business West, will be the panel moderator.

The cost for the meeting will be $20, which will include lunch. For reservations, telephone 913-766-4300 or 913-406-6266 (cell) or email murrel@mcbconsultinginc.com.

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Commerce Department directs efforts toward existing, new businesses

by Murrel Bland

The Kansas Department of Commerce focuses on business retention, attracting new business and improving workforce development.

That was the message that David Soffer brought to a meeting of the Congressional Forum Friday, Sept. 15, at Children’s Mercy Park in Village West. Soffer is the director of marketing and research for the Commerce Department. He lives in Overland Park.

Soffer was substituting for his boss, Nick Jordan, who is Kansas secretary of commerce. Jordan was originally scheduled to speak at the forum; However, Gov. Sam Brownback requested Jordan to accompany him on a trip to Dallas, Texas.

He said that the state needs to do a better job of telling the advantages of doing business in Kansas. These advantages include more reasonable operating costs. Labor and taxes tend to be lower in Kansas than such places as New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Soffer said he can attest to more reasonable living costs as he moved to Overland Park from the Brooklyn Heights community of New York City.

Recruiting a qualified workforce is an important part of the Commerce Department’s functions. He said one of the sources of qualified workers is retired military. He said the Department of Commerce wants to take advantage of retiring military personnel at places such as Ft. Riley near Junction City, Kan.

The Commerce Department also works with educators, particularly those in grades K-12 and in post-secondary levels, to assure that there are adequate workers for Kansas businesses, Soffer said.

He also said the Commerce Department works closely with local units of government and their economic development efforts including those in Wyandotte County. He cited the new Amazon warehouse just off the Turner Diagonal which will provide some 2,500 jobs.

Soffer said he expected the Commerce Department to submit a proposal for Amazon’s second headquarters. Economic development officials throughout the country are vying for a $5 billion complex that would employee an estimated 50,0000 persons in very well-paying jobs. But various publications, including The New York Times, sees little chance that Kansas (or Kansas City, Mo.) would attract the Amazon prize. One economic development observer said Kansas City simply doesn’t have the necessary workers.

One person at the forum suggested that the Sprint campus in Overland Park might be a good location for the second Amazon headquarters. However, those familiar with Amazon’s requirements said the Sprint campus wouldn’t be large enough.

Soffer was asked about the Tyson Chicken processing plant that has been proposed for rural Leavenworth County just south of Tonganoxie. Several Leavenworth County residents have attended public meetings protesting Tyson. They cite environmental concerns and the potential of overcrowding schools. Soffer said the $320 million plant would provide 1,600 jobs, but was careful not to say much more.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.

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Kansas attorney general offers tips on reducing identity theft risk following Equifax data breach

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today offered tips for consumers to reduce their risk of identity theft following last week’s announcement by Equifax of a data breach affecting some 143 million U.S consumers.

Schmidt said an investigation of the breach is underway but is likely to be a lengthy process.

“This reported breach appears to be so large, and the compromised information so sensitive, that all Kansans should take a moment to focus on steps they can take to reduce the risk of identity theft while the investigation of this breach unfolds,” Schmidt said.

Equifax, one of the country’s three main credit reporting bureaus, last week reported that information compromised between May and July of this year is believed to include names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers.

Some general tips to protect yourself after a data breach:

• Check your credit report. Monitoring your credit report can help you identify signs of potential identity theft. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com to access those reports. You can pull all three at once, or you can stagger pulling your reports throughout the year.

• Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion — to place an initial fraud alert, which will stay on your credit report for 90 days. The alert is free of charge and will make it more difficult for someone to open credit in your name.

• Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report. A security freeze essentially puts a lock on your credit so that most third parties can’t access your report. This helps protect you from unauthorized accounts being opened in your name. Identity theft victims can obtain a free “security freeze” on their credit reports but, under Kansas law, if you are not the victim of identity theft each credit bureau may charge a fee between $5-$10 for placing a freeze. You must request the credit freeze individually with each of the three credit bureaus.

• Beware of scams related to the breach. Con artists may pretend to have information about the breach or they may falsely claim to want to help you. Some calls or messages may be scams designed to steal your money or personal information. Don’t give out personal information to those who contact you unexpectedly (even if they say they want to help you) and be wary about clicking on links or downloading attachments in messages.

• Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts. Look for suspicious activity. If you find errors, immediately notify your bank or credit provider.

• When it’s tax season, consider filing early. File your taxes as soon as you have all of the information necessary to file so that there is less of a chance for someone to fraudulently file on your behalf. This is especially important if you know your information has been compromised.

More information, including how to request a security freeze, is available on the attorney general’s consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.

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