UG to look at convention center for Village West area

The Unified Government is considering a feasibility study for a convention center in or near Village West in western Kansas City, Kan.

At an Economic Development and Finance Standing Committee meeting Monday night, UG Administrator Doug Bach received preliminary approval to send out a request for proposals for a feasibility study for convention space in or near Village West and the entire I-435 corridor in western Wyandotte County.

The feasibility study idea will go before the June 5 UG Commission meeting for commission approval. It was unanimously approved by the committee.

Bach told the committee that during the last few years, developers had approached the UG about convention space. There were different proposals, but the UG staff believed the UG ought to “take control of it” and make sure the project is done for the long-term benefit of the community, and not for the benefit of the development itself, Bach told the committee.

He said there have been conversations with different parties, including the Hollywood Casino-Kansas Speedway group, which is moving forward on a hotel with 250 rooms currently. The hotel is scheduled to be constructed in October.

Bach said the UG also has been talking with the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Kansas City, Kan., about a convention center.

He recommended that the UG do its own RFP, select a consultant to do an analysis to see if a convention center is feasible, and if so, how big should it be and what would be the best location, and not take the project to one developer.

He told the UG committee that the majority of the $50,000 approximate study cost might be funded by other entities, although the UG would be in control of it. He said the CVB and the casino group might contribute to paying for most of the study. The study may take 60 to 90 days.

If the study recommends a convention center site next to the casino hotel, there might be an extension of the time the casino group is allowed to start building the hotel, especially if the hotel needs to be relocated, Bach said. However, the site of the convention center could be anywhere along the I-435 corridor.

“I think this is a great time to proceed with studying this,” said Commissioner Jim Walters. “There’s a lot of interest.”

He said he recently attended a commissioners’ conference in Manhattan, Kan., which had a better convention facility than did Kansas City, Kan. One day at the conference, the spouses took a side trip to go shopping at The Legends in Kansas City, Kan., he related.

Commissioner Ann Murguia asked Bach to come back to the UG Commission for further approval if the funds the UG would have to pay for the study were a lot larger than anticipated.

Commissioner Gayle Townsend said this benefits the UG from the planning perspective, as it puts the UG in a position of strength and knowledge, and it sounded like a reasonable project.

Governor to speak at Fairfax meeting

Gov. Sam Brownback will be the guest speaker at the June 12 meeting of the Fairfax Industrial Association.

The governor may speak between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. June 12 at the Hilton
Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota Ave., Kansas City, Kan.

Doors will open for the lunch event at 11 a.m. Serving will begin at 11:15 a.m.

Those interested in attending may make reservations by 3 p.m. June 10 to Chuck Schlittler, executive director, at execdir@fiakck.org.

Two literacy grants awarded in KCK

Two literacy grants have been awarded in Kansas City, Kan.

Dollar General Literacy Foundation recently awarded grants to Donnelly College and the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools.

Donnelly received $10,000 and the school district received $5,000.

The grants will be used to support adult, family and summer literacy rograms.

In addition, $25,000 was awarded to the Johnson County Community Foundation in Overland Park, $2,100 to the Operation Breakthrough in Kansas City, Mo., and $8,000 to Stacks Youth Project in Belton, Mo.

“At Dollar General, we are passionate about our mission of Serving Others throughout the communities we serve,” said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General’s chairman and CEO. “It’s exciting to see the Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s outreach in action as we partner with organizations to further education and literacy and make a real difference in people’s lives.”

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is also currently accepting applications for youth literacy grants through Thursday, May 22. Applications may be completed online at www.dgliteracy.org.